After a letdown last year, the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets reclaimed the Milltown Showdown title as they pounded rivals Nation Ford 67-38.
With host Nation Ford fans sporting “Falcon Repeat” shirts, Nation Ford looked to get its second win over rivals Fort Mill in as many years.
Nation Ford was coming off a bye week and had two weeks to prep for the rival Jackets, while Fort Mill had an extra day to get ready having played last Thursday.
Fort Mill is now 6-2 and 2-1 in Region 3-4A, while Nation Ford is 2-5 with a 0-2 Region 3-4A record.
Fort Mill was led by quarterback Rogan Wells as he rushed for 130 yards on 14 carries and four touchdowns and running back Malik Long, who rushed for 244 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns. The Jackets had 521 yards rushing in the game.
“Rogan threw the ball well and that helps,” said Fort Mill head coach Ed Susi. “This makes up from losing last year.”
Nation Ford struggled to move the ball early as Fort Mill’s defense kept pressure on quarterback Cole Martin, who still out up gaudy numbers – 30-50 for 492 yards and four touchdowns. Martin’s main target was receiver Jordan Helms, who caught 11 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Martin’s 492 passing yards is a new school record.
Penalties hurt Nation Ford to start the third quarter, but Martin overcame that as he hit Ervin Lassiter on a 58-yard pass to cross midfield. Lassiter and Martin connected again on the drive as they scored on an 18-yard pass.
With Nation Ford struggling to stop the run, the Jackets kept things on the ground and Fort Mill came back to move the ball down the field.
Long got Fort Mill to the 20-yard line of Nation Ford, where Wells ran it in from 20-yards out.
Martin tied to keep Nation Ford in the game as he and receiver Hank Tuipulotu finally found their rhythm, connecting on a 36-yard pass to move the Falcons deep into Fort Mill territory. However, the Jackets’ defense held strong at the goal line keeping Nation Ford out of the end zone.
Fort Mill kept the ball on the ground to drain the clock and Long kept doing what he had been doing all game – busting the Nation Ford defense for big gains.
Wells also had some big runs on the drive, as he extended Fort Mill’s lead with a 35-yard run himself for a score making it 46-21.
Nation Ford took the ball to start the second quarter and Martin hit Helms and Tuipulotu to move the chains before Martin connected with Keshaun McClure on a wheel route for a 54-yard touchdown to put the Falcons on the board.
Fort Mill bounced right back and Long took the ball 80 yards in 14 seconds to extend the Jackets’ lead as he scored from scrimmage on its first series in the second quarter.
The Jackets’ defense stayed on the attack shaking Martin up for a couple plays and flushing him out of the pocket on several occasions.
Fort Mill kept the ball on the ground for the majority of its next possession. Wells did hit Long on a 18-yard pass and Clay Helvey for a 30-yard pass to get the Jackets to the red zone.
Long then carried the ball to the one-yard line and then Wells kept it himself to score for Fort Mill.
Nation Ford tried to come back and put together a good series as Martin hit Helms and Tuipulotu on 17 and 22-yard passes to move the chains for the Falcons, putting them at the eight-yard line of Fort Mill. McClure scored two plays later for Nation Ford cutting the Fort Mill lead in half.
Fort Mill got another huge return from Chandler Kryst of 76-yards on the ensuing kickoff to put the Jackets into the red zone to start its next drive. Long pushed Fort Mill again to the goal line and Wells hit Brandon Plyler for a three-yard touchdown.
In the first quarter, Kryst took the opening kickoff back to the Falcons’ 34-yard line for a 64-yard return. However, Nation Ford’s defense stepped up stopped the Jackets after sacking Wells to turn the ball over on downs.
Fort Mill’s defense was just as furious, rushing Martin and consistently pushing Nation Ford backwards.
The Jackets started deep in their own territory, but a big 25-yard run from Long allowed Fort Mill to cross midfield. Long and Wells got Fort Mill into the red zone before Taylor Hemphill scrambled in from the final 15-yards to cap off a nine-play, 92-yard drive and put the Jackets on the board first.
After a Falcons’ punt, Fort Mill started four yards into Nation Ford territory. Wells hit Plyler on the first play to get them to the one-yard line with a 45-yard pass. Long scored two plays later to extend the Jackets lead.