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Gamecocks shine in all-star Border Bowl loss

One of the best senior classes to ever don a Screven County Gamecock helmet represented the county well in the fifth annual Border Bowl all-star game Saturday as Team South Carolina topped Team Georgia 32-25 with the deciding score a 90-yard interception return.

Defensive back DeJuan Bell of North Augusta’s fourth-quarter scamper into the opposing end zone did seal the deal for South Carolina on Jan. 6 at Lucy C. Laney Memorial Stadium, but the five SCHS Gamecocks more than did their part for Team Georgia.

Their defense and 14 total points of offense provided their Peach State teammates an opportunity to claim victory as the proceeds from the contest, put on by WJBF News Channel 6 and The Augusta Chronicle, benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta. WJBF will rebroadcast the game on Sunday at noon.

Representing Screven County on the field were Kendrick Cox, Kim Hunter, Tyquan Johnson, Kashawn Robinson and CJ Wright. On the Team Georgia’s coaching staff with Jefferson County J.B. Arnold as head coach were SCHS head coach Ron Duncan and SCHS assistant coach Chris Pye.

“It was a pleasure coaching those guys for another week and getting to work with some of the best talent our area has to offer,” Duncan said. “Our players really showed why we have become one of the top programs around. I was proud watching them.”

This year’s group of seniors helped the Gamecocks win back-to-back region championships and advance to the third round of the state playoffs in 2016 and 2017.

“All five of our guys practiced with great leadership and intensity all week at practice,” Pye said. “The weather wasn't pleasant and we had some very very cold days out there but they showed up ready to work and represented our Gamecock Family with pride. It was no surprise to me to see how they all performed in the game ... we had the most players from one school than any other team and their play in the game Saturday proved why. It was an honor and a blessing for me to be able to coach those guys one last game.”

Wright, who was listed on the Georgia roster as a defensive tackle, also would finish as Georgia’s leading rusher as he had a touchdown and two-point conversion on the ground.

Additionally, Wright had two tackles and two quarterback hurries as he and fellow interior linemen created havoc affording defensive ends, like SCHS/Team Georgian Cox, to make tackles.

Wright, a Georgia Southern commit, had seven carries for 27 yards as he, as Screven County faithful have seen, also drug as many as six South Carolina defenders.

Wright’s two-point conversion came in the first quarter at the 7:18 mark and TD rush in the second quarter at 11:40 as the Georgia squad built a 15-0 lead on its opposition from across the river.

Wide receiver Johnson’s 55-yard touchdown reception – with the addition of the extra point -- in the fourth quarter tied the contest at 25 with 4:30 left as Johnson caught a pass between two defenders and raced to the front corner of the end zone as he dove in for the score.

Johnson, an early football signee with South Carolina, pulled in a 40-yard reception in the first quarter that helped set up a 42-yard TD reception by Jefferson County’s Ty King. Jefferson County quarterback Chardell Hales was the quarterback on both tosses.

Johnson had Team Georgia’s most receiving yards. Deshun Kitchings of South Aiken from Team South Carolina had the game’s most receiving yards with 100 on four catches.

Defensive end Cox led both teams in tackles as he finished with 12 tackles – including six for losses and a sack. When Cox was not making a tackle himself, he was disrupting a Team South Carolina offensive play.

Hunter finished with three tackles from his defensive safety position and as a special teams player. Hunter provided run support and coverage against Team South Carolina’s multiple-receiver sets.

Hunter has football scholarship offers from Liberty University and Savannah State University. He also has a preferred walk-on offer from Georgia Southern.

Robinson, who led the Gamecocks in tackles this past season, had two tackles and two quarterback hurries as he came on linebacker blitzes.

When the teams went into halftime, it was 15-12 Team Georgia. It stayed that way until the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter, Team Georgia’s Max Tyler of Evans kicked a 35-yard field goal at the 10:27 mark. Team South Carolina’s Will Sheehan of Midland Valley catch a 7-yard touchdown pass from South Aiken’s Cody Boynton with 5:52 left in the game, but the kick failed. Team South Carolina’s Tyrek Williams of Strom Thurmond scored with 5:03 left on a 25-yard fumble recovery.

Then came Johnson’s 55-yard TD reception from Hales, followed by Bell’s 90-yard interception return with 1:52 in the game.

Victory slipped away from Team Georgia as it committed five turnovers and had nine penalties for 95 yards compared to Team South Carolina’s six penalties for only 30 yards.