Rock Hill football varsity football turns up heat on defense, falls short in last minutes
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who caught Rock Hill High School’s first touchdown pass in its game against Sumter. The receiver was junior Michael Romeo.
Many of Friday night’s games were delayed because of stormy weather. Check back for updates. Here’s what we know.
CLOVER 48, YORK 21, FINAL
SUMTER 28, ROCK HILL 21, FINAL
The Sumter Gamecocks scored in the final three minutes and edged the Rock Hill Bearcats 28-21 in a non-region game at District 3 Stadium Friday night.
Gamecocks took a 21-0 lead after one period, but Rock Hill battle back with touchdowns in each of the final three quarters to tie the contest at 21 with 4:26 remaining.
Sumter drove for the winning score on the ensuing possession. Justice Wells scored from eight yards out with 2:38 left to cap the quick drive.
Anthony Dinkins-McCall returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and a quick 6-0 Sumter lead. The Gamecocks blocked a Bearcat punt on the next series and ran it in for a touchdown and a 14-0 cushion. Vasquez completed the first quarter scoring with a 21-yard pass to Marcus Lane, and it was 21-0 midway through the opening session.
Rock Hill responded. The ‘Cats defense turned it up and did not allow another Sumter score until late in the game.
Rock Hill’s defense came up with fumble recoveries and pass interceptions in the final three quarters to set up the offense with scoring opportunities. Rock Hill took advantage of some, but missed on others.
The Bearcats got on the board in the second period when Jordan Thurmond passed to Michael Romeo to make it 21-7. The scoring drive was set up when Rock Hill’s Regan Chisolm recovered a Sumter fumble.
Tylik Edwards picked off a Sumter pass and returned it for a touchdown, and the ‘Cats had cut the deficit to 21-14 with 1:15 left in the third period.
Hakeem Jackson’s interception set up the third Rock Hill score. He picked off a Vasquez pass and returned it to the Gamecock one-yard line. Thomas Neff blasted in from there, and the contest was tied 21-21.
River Bluff 43, Fort Mill 3, FINAL
FORT MILL — A struggling offense and an overworked Fort Mill defense helped give the River Bluff Gators a 43-3 win to open their 2019 season.
Getting off to a good start in any sport is crucial; that said, for Fort Mill this football season, it may be more crucial than most.
The Jackets came into the game having won just one game last season. A loss to River Bluff put Fort Mill’s losing streak at six games dating back to last season. Fort Mill lost to River Buff last year, 61-34, to open the 2018 season. The team’s last win dates back to a victory over Lugoff-Elgin last season. Things won’t get any easier for Fort Mill as they take on defending 3A state champions in Chester next week.
The Gators also brought in one of the best running backs in the state in 6-foot, 205-pound Braden Walker, who rushed for almost 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Fort Mill was able to hang with River Bluff in the first half as the team trailed only 15-3 at the half. The Gators then scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to blow the game open for River Bluff. River Bluff accumulated 311 total yards of offense.
Ben Rich came up big for Fort Mill in the early going, hitting a 25-yard field goal to put the Jackets on the board with about 8:35 left in the opening quarter. Riley Myers for the Gators put them on the board in the second quarter with a 29-yard touchdown. River Bluff backup quarterback Jackson Stone also threw a 14-yard touchdown to Tyson Trottier in the second quarter to put the Gators up 13-3 with about 5:30 left in the first half.
River Bluff struggled early on with offensive penalties and struggled to move the ball in the first quarter. The Gators were flagged four times for 40 yards in the opening quarter.
Fort Mill’s defense played well early, but the unit spent a lot of time on the field and eventually was worn down, as the Jackets’ offense struggled to move the ball. The Jackets struggled to run the ball, and largely relied on moving the ball through the air.
Fort Mill quarterback Dylan Helms led Fort Mill with 50 yards passing, but he also threw three interceptions. Walker for River Bluff ran for 42 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Stone threw for 112 yards and two touchdowns in a backup signal-caller role. Stone also ran for a touchdown as well. Myers rushed for 99 yards on 10 carries.
“We couldn’t keep that energy,” Fort Mill head coach Rob McNeely said. “Games are won and lost up-front. After that first quarter, they controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. We have to get some confidence in ourselves. There is a lot to build on.”
— Mac Banks, firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM
Nation Ford 20, Spartanburg 6, FINAL
The Nation Ford Falcons opened the season with an impressive 20-6 win over the Spartanburg Vikings in a non-region game at Nation Ford.
Spartanburg took a 3-0 lead on a Henry Bishop field goal and maintained that lead through the end of the first period. When Bishop nailed another field goal, the Vikings led 6-0 with 9:40 remaining in the first half.
The Falcons responded with a 25-yard field goal by Quinn Castner to cut the deficit to 6-3 with 1:23 left in the half. They took a 10-6 lead on a 10-yard touchdown run with five seconds left until intermission.
Nation Ford upped the count to 13-6 with another Castner field goal with 3:17 left in the third period. This one was from 23 yards out.
The Falcons capped the scoring with a touchdown with 10:09 to play in the contest. Nathan Mahaffey scampered in from 14 yards out to give Nation Ford a 20-6 lead.
Indian Land 18, Lancaster 3, FINAL
Most games were either delayed or postponed Friday night due to rain and lightning. However, Indian Land used offensive dominance to capture an 18-3 win over Lancaster.
The game, which endured a one hour delay due to lightening, was played at Memorial Stadium in Lancaster, S.C.
The Warriors controlled the ball most of the first quarter amid countless penalties from both teams.
The Warriors opened the second quarter with a touchdown from junior Brandon Britton, who capped the drive with a 4 yard run to the end-zone. The point after attempt failed.
The Bruins answered with a field goal from the 34-yard line from junior William Corzo to make the score 6-3 at halftime.
After a Bruins fumble seconds into the third quarter, the Warriors continued their offensive dominance, with a quarter back sneak into the end-zone by Britton to build a 12-3 lead. The two point conversion attempt failed.
The Bruins offensive continued to struggle, while the Warriors found their stride with a 25-yard touchdown run by TJ Thomas in the fourth quarter. After a blocked field goal attempt, the Warriors led 18-3.
Catawba Ridge 13, Carolina Pride 0, FINAL
FORT MILL — Catawba Ridge braved an hour-and-a-half weather delay to start the night, then got fireworks from both on and off the field while notching the first-ever victory in program history, a 13-0 result over the Carolina Bearcats.
Catawba Ridge quickly quieted the nervous energy that filled the air, finding the end zone on a 12-yard hookup between Harrison Wilson and Quinten Jackson to cap a first drive lasting just under two minutes. That connection gave the Copperheads their first touchdown – and lead – in school history.
Carolina tested the mettle of the young Catawba Ridge defense, starting four of its first five drives in Copperhead territory. The Bearcats managed a number of sustained treks down the field, but the Copperheads showed a bend-but-don’t-break attitude. Catawba Ridge blocked a 31-yard field goal to end the first Carolina drive, then got a Jackson interception inside the five to stall another charge. The defensive group limited Carolina to 2-for-7 on third-down conversions and 1-for-3 on fourth in the opening 24 minutes, an effort that thrilled Copperhead coach Zac Lendyak.
“That defense was unbelievable tonight,” said Lendyak. “To think we’ve got that whole crowd coming back next year gets me really excited. They showed something tonight. Carolina put (49) points (in an opening-week win over Statesville Christian) on the board last week, so to keep them off the board, they were our inspiration the whole night.”
That defense continued to shine in the second half, turning away drive after drive by the visitors from Charlotte. The Bearcats started three drives inside the Copperhead red zone – two in the second half – but the stubborn Catawba Ridge defense kept its focus while keeping the Bearcats off the scoreboard.
One of those second-half drives started at the Catawba Ridge 10 following a 70-yard kickoff return by Carolina’s Jaquavion Clyburn. Following a personal foul penalty that moved a fourth-and-goal from the one back to the 16, the Copperheads forced an incomplete pass that ended the drive.
Another drive that began at the 18 appeared to end with a beautiful touchdown throw from Wanyae Freeman to Clyburn, but an ineligible man downfield infraction brought back that pass. The Copperheads recorded another huge drive-ending stop on the ensuing play.
The Copperhead offense had its defense’s back in that closing half, as well. The unit moved well behind Wilson and backup quarterback Kayden Hager, with Wilson hitting Ben Hudgins on a four-yard strike to provide the eventual final margin for the home side with 2:38 to play in the third quarter. The tandem impressed its head coach.
“They knew coming into it that they were both going to play. They knew they were both going to play defense, which they did, because that’s just the situation we’re in,” said Lendyak. “The thing I love the most about them is (that) when one makes a play, the other one’s right there supporting them. That’s why they were voted some of the captains of this football team.”
The duo combined for a 15-for-25 night and 138 passing yards, with two of those throws finding the end zone. Jackson paced the Copperhead receiving unit with four grabs for 70 yards, while Jacobie Henderson hauled in six for 45.
The final capped an emotional day for Lendyak, who coached his first game as a varsity-level leader..
“It’s been a long day,” he said, with a smile. “I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep this week, but I knew once 7:30 got here, and it ended up turning into whatever time we kicked off, that we’d be okay. I was just ready for that time to get here. It’s a dream come true.”
Lewisville at Eau Claire, postponed (rescheduled for Monday at 6 p.m.)