The Rock Hill Bearcats are trying to return to power in South Carolina high school football with a young team. With that, comes growing pains. Friday night’s matchup with the eighth-ranked Dorman Cavaliers was one of missed opportunities as the Bearcats fell 35-14 at home. Rock Hill dropped three potential interceptions and had a fumble recovery called back by a penalty at their own 10-yard that led to a Dorman go-ahead touchdown.
“Those guys play defense for a reason,” Rock Hill coach Bubba Pittman said of the dropped interceptions. “We haven’t played our best game. Being young is not an excuse, it’s time to start playing. Nobody said it was going to be easy.”
The Cavaliers took the opening kickoff 74 yards in 11 plays and led 7-0 at the 8:09 mark when quarterback Aron Spann ran it in from 3 yards out.
Pittman made a gutsy call on Rock Hill’s first drive and it paid off. The Bearcats faced a punting situation with a fourth-and-7 on the Dorman 47, but punter DeShaun McFadden instead threw to Michael Martin for a 28-yard gain and first down at the Cavaliers’ 19. Two plays later quarterback Brandon Banks hit McFadden for an 11-yard momentum swinging touchdown pass with 5:58 left in the opening quarter.
Rock Hill got an interception on Dorman’s next possession as Myles Pearson picked off a tipped pass at midfield. However, the Bearcats could not take advantage and went three plays and out. Tyrek Long returned the McFadden punt 45 yards and the Cavaliers set up shop at the home team’s 23.
Cue the missed opportunities.
After a penalty made it first-and-15, a Rock Hill defensive end had an interception and possible pick-six go through his hands and into the hands of Stanford-bound receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a 15-yard gain to the 13. On second down from the ten, the Bearcats forced a fumble after a short reception but the play was nullified by off-setting penalties. On third down, Rock Hill forced an incompletion and Dorman was flagged for pass interference. The Bearcats elected to take the penalty instead of the play, presumably to push the Cavaliers out of field goal range. But on third-and-21 from the 24, Collin Hill hit Eric Grant straight up the seam uncovered for a 24-yard score and a 14-7 lead with 1:11 left in the first.
On Dorman’s next possession after Rock Hill could not move the ball, the Cavaliers went 58 yards on three running plays and Arcega-Whiteside ran it in from 8 yards out for a 21-7 lead. He had 16 yards on three carries and caught 13 passes for 179 yards and another touchdown.
The Bearcats drove to the Dorman 15 with under a minute left in the half, but turned it over on downs after an incomplete pass intended for Brandon Croutch over the middle.
Rock Hill again drove deep into Cavalier territory to the 16 late in the third quarter, but Banks threw over the top as his receiver cut to the middle of the field and the Bearcats turned it over on downs.
“We had home run shots over the top over and over and we just missed opportunities,” Pittman said.
Cameron McKinney came in to start the fourth at quarterback and on third down McFadden made a one-handed grab on what looked an interception and took it 43 yards to cut the lead to 21-14 with 11:09 left. McFadden had 12 receptions for 131 yards and both touchdowns.
“Deshaun is a player,” Pittman said. “He’s a competitor and we’re real proud of him.”
The Rock Hill defense was unable to capitalize on momentum and get off the field as Dorman answered with an eight-play 77-yard drive in 2:37 and made it 28-14 when Spann again came in and scored from 4 yards out.
McKinney threw a bad pick on an attempted screen pass on the next drive to basically end the Bearcats’ hopes. The Cavaliers surprisingly went to the air again and Arcega-Whiteside hauled in another 15-yard touchdown from Hill for the final margin with 5:36 left.
The Bearcats travel to Sumter next week.