Turnovers and penalties stalled the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets’ best start in nearly 30 years as the team was trying to go 4-0 for the first time since 1983.
After setting a school record with 70 points last week in a win against Greenville, the Jackets’ high-flying offense – the most prolific in the state after three victories to start the season – fell back to Earth late Friday night in a 14-7 loss to River Bluff. It was a long game that included a nearly a two-hour delay because of lighting.
Fort Mill turned the ball over three times in the game, including two fumbles, and had nine penalties for 63 yards.
“We had a bad week of practice,” said Fort Mill head coach Ed Susi. “You have a bad week of practice, you play bad on Friday. It was a poor exhibition on our part. That wasn’t a very good display on our part.”
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Still, the game seemed theirs for the taking. Trailing by a touchdown, Fort Mill opened the fourth quarter with an 18-play drive that ate up nearly eight minutes off the clock, but came up empty, handing the ball over on downs to River Bluff. It was the Jackets’ final opportunity to tie the game.
Earlier in the game, Fort Mill stopped River Bluff on the first drive of the second half and moved the ball well on offense. Junior quarterback Rogan Wells hit tight end Mason Jordan on a big 28-yard pass getting the Jackets past midfield.
Seniors Chandler Kryst and Malik Long got Fort Mill within the 10-yard line, but penalties stalled the drive for the Jackets, resulting in a missed 25-yard field goal attempt.
Fort Mill’s defense stopped River Bluff on its next series, but a muffed punt gave it right back to the Gators. The Jackets’ frustration got to them as they were called for an unsportsmanlike penalty, pushing the ball to the 9-yard line for River Bluff and the Gators scored two plays later to go ahead 14-7 and score the game’s final points.
The game was halted after the first quarter when the weather became a threat. Play resumed after an hour and 50 minutes.
On the first play after the game resumed, Wells ran the ball in from 4 yards out to put the Jackets up 7-0 with kicker Taylor Sheets’ point after.
River Bluff took the opening drive of the second quarter and moved the ball well early as junior Brandon Tillmon picked up a huge gain on a 23-yard run, but the Jackets’ defense stopped the Gators and forced a punt. The ensuing punt pinned Fort Mill at its 5-yard line, but Long pushed the Jackets up the field to move the chains.
It was a productive drive until Wells was picked off at the 21-yard line, giving River Bluff great field position. Tillmon then scrambled 20 yards on the first play of the drive and sophomore TiJuan Glenn scored on the next one to tie the game after the extra point.
Fort Mill tried to bounce back. Wells made smarter passes on the drive, but the drive ended at the River Bluff 27-yard line with a fumble giving the ball back to the Gators.
On the opening drive of the game, Wells took the Jackets from the 30-yard line and moved them down the field with ease. Kryst had a big 20-yard run to get Fort Mill into the red zone. River Bluff’s defense then stuffed Long on a couple runs and a holding penalty pushed the Jackets back to the 25-yard line. The Yellow Jackets came up empty on the drive.
River Bluff took the ball deep in its own territory and kept it on the ground as Tillmon had big runs of 15-yards twice picking up first downs on both occasions. However, Fort Mill got a turnover as junior Evan Stankovits stripped the ball causing a fumble that was recovered by junior Austin Randolph.
Fort Mill got the ball near midfield and kept it on the ground again as Long pounded his way again past the Gators’ 20-yard line.
Kryst and Wells moved the ball to around the 10-yard line, but the Jackets struggled to get the ball into the end zone before the end of the first quarter.
River Bluff 14, Fort Mill 7
FM – Rogan Wells four-yard run (Taylor Sheets kick)
RB – TiJuan Glenn one-yard run (Justin Salters kick)
RB – Davon Johnson one-yard run (Salters kick)
River Bluff;Fort Mill
First downs 9;18
Passing yards 22;147
RUSHING River Bluff: Austin Pollard 6-12, Brandon Tillmon 17-118, Diante Wofford-Petruso 2-7, TiJuan Glenn 7-39. Fort Mill: Malik Long 16-89, Rogan Wells 11-21, Chandler Kryst 8-40, Taylor Hemphill 2-8, Nick Chambers 2-2, James White 1-4.
PASSING River Bluff: Brandon Tillmon 4-7-0 22. Fort Mill: Rogan Wells 17-24-1 147.
RECEIVING River Bluff: Aaron McCall 1-3, Glenn 1-14, Wofford-Petruso 1-4, Rory Vogt 1-1 . Fort Mill: Clay Helvey 2-15, Mason Jordan 2-24, Brandon Plyler 5-43, Kryst 6-40, Chambers 1-10, Long 1-9.
RECORDS River Bluff 3-1; Fort Mill 3-1