Rock Hill head coach Bubba Pittman’s first game calling the shots for his alma mater could not have gone much better. His offense was efficient and made big plays. The defense was swarming, lighting up ball-carriers, and forcing three-and-outs and turnovers. And the special teams was solid in the Bearcats’ dominant 40-6 win over the Blythewood Bengals Friday night in Blythewood. And Pittman got a dunking by his players to celebrate.
“It feels great,” said the soaking-wet coach. “I’m just proud of the kids and I hope it’s the beginning of something we can keep rolling.”
Blythewood got the opening kickoff and went three-and-out. Rock Hill’s first play from scrimmage was a 43-yard run by Brandon Croutch. However, the Bearcats first drive ended with a turnover on downs. After forcing another punt, Rock Hill went 82 yards in nine plays and 2:42. They got on the board when junior Timothy Sherer ran it in from eight yards out on third down. The Bearcats went for two and junior Da’Chon Witherspoon ran it this time to make it 8-0.
Rock Hill’s defense, which allowed 33 total yards in the first half, forced another three-and-out. The Bengals defense would stiffen this time, but they roughed the punter to give the Bearcats a fresh set of downs. On second-and-eight from the Blythewood 46, a Bengals linebacker stepped in front of junior quarterback Cameron McKinney’s pass for a sure interception. However, the ball bounced off his hands and an alert Croutch snatched it out of the air in full stride. It wasn’t quite the Immaculate Reception, despite the Bearcats new black helmets with the logo on one side (resembling Pittsburgh), but Croutch raced 46 yards for the touchdown to stun the home crowd. Cameron Long’s extra point made it 15-0 with 10:24 left in the half. Croutch had 73 yards receiving on four catches and 16 carries for 148 yards rushing.
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After yet another three-and-out, which ended with a sack by senior Wayne Simmons, the snap sailed over the punter’s head. He kicked it out of the back of the end zone for a safety that made it 17-0 Rock Hill. With 1:20 left in the half, McKinney hit junior John McCullough with a 52-yard laser that made the advantage 24-0 going to the half. The Bearcats had a 250-33 advantage in total yards in the first half. The defense forced two turnovers and only allowed 101 yards going into the final period.
“Lights-out,” Pittman said of the defense. “They were non-stop. Looked like the old Bearcats defense didn’t it?”
The visitors picked up right where they left off to start the third quarter. McKinney and McCullough hooked up again on a play almost identical to their first touchdown connection. This time, McCullough dragged two would-be tacklers the final 10 yards for a 33-yard touchdown to make it 30-0. That drive was 80 yards in 11 plays and took 4:56 off the clock. The key play that kept the drive alive was a 25-yard completion on third-and-19 from McKinney to senior Deshaun McFadden. McKinney was 19-for-28 with 257 yards and three touchdowns.
The special teams looked good as well for the Bearcats. Rock Hill would drive 66 yards in ten plays before Long hit a 32-yard field goal with only 34 seconds left in the quarter. The junior’s kick made it 33-0.
After Blythewood got on the board with a touchdown pass in the fourth, senior Dylan Jones hit junior Thailand Adams for a 19-yard score to push the Bearcat lead to 40-6.
Rock Hill and Pittman will get their first big test next week as they host the South Pointe Stallions.
“Our kids look for that game and they are excited to play it. We just hope we come out and play well.”