Spartanburg’s big-play ballers were as good as advertised on Saturday in the Class 4A Division II state championship.
Junior running back Tavien Feaster was much hyped heading into the game, but he only enhanced his reputation. Spartanburg’s play-calling in the first half limited Feaster’s effectiveness in the run game, but he got in on the Vikings’ long distance passing attack, grabbing a 69-yard pass from Austin Scott on a wheel route out of the backfield.
“We knew if I get out on the high side one-on-one coverage, nobody can guard me, man,” said Feaster afterward. “It struck us up, it started us up.”
Feaster scored both of his rushing touchdowns in the second half, but he wasn’t the only contributor to Spartanburg’s lightning-strike scoring plays in the first half.
“That tailback’s as good as I’ve seen in a long time,” said York coach Bobby Carroll.
Shrine Bowl-bound athlete Cedarius Rookard made an intuitive in-air adjustment to grab a 59-yard touchdown from Scott, after York defensive back Daurice Simpson popped the ball up in the air. Rookard also made an interception later in the game.
“I knew the ball was coming to me,” said Rookard, describing his circus touchdown catch in the first half. “I saw it was gonna be short. I tried to come back to the ball and I went up for the ball and he grabbed my hand down. In my mind I was like, ‘no, I’m not gonna catch it.’ He let go and tipped it and then I caught it and just did what I had to do.”
Spartanburg’s first three scoring drives in the first half required just six total plays, just 2 minutes, 4 seconds melting off the clock. With the score tied 21-all late in the second quarter, Vikings receiver Tavaris Scott showed he must have still had Christmas tree sap on his hands, snagging an Austin Scott pass down the right sideline for a 34-yard touchdown just before the break. Tavaris Scott finished with 132 yards on five catches.
York has prided itself on big-play-making all season, but the only big one the Cougars broke came on a busted coverage by Spartanburg. Deshaw Andrews found Shandon Cobb for a 65-yard touchdown to give York a 21-13 lead in the first half.
For the game, Chris Miller’s Vikings averaged 8.2 yards per play, while York, built around turning short passes into big gains, only produced 5.3 yards per play.
“They had us on some big plays and they got us,” said Carroll. “They’re a big-play offense and that’s what they did to us.”
Feaster racked up 130 yards on 26 carries, scoring two touchdowns, and also caught four passes for 91 more yards and another touchdown. When Vikings safety Mike Murphy went down with an injury later in the game, Feaster stepped in at defensive back and picked off a Deshaw Andrews pass to squash any hopes of a Cougar miracle.
“Coach (Miller) told us to have the mindset of ‘kill a gnat with a sledgehammer,’” said Feaster.