When it came to preparing his Yellow Jackets to face visiting Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Fort Mill coach Ed Susi had a simple message.
“I told these guys all week, we can’t beat anybody if we put the ball on the ground,” Susi said. “Our emphasis was doing the little things better.” He added: “I’ve got a feeling we can score some points if you can take care of the football.”
Consider that mission accomplished, as his Yellow Jackets came away with a convincing 41-7 win in their 2016 home opener at Bob Jones Stadium.
Fort Mill (2-2) totaled 458 yards of offense against the visiting Bruins, including a commanding 356 rushing yards on 50 carries. More importantly for Susi, though, his Yellow Jackets did not commit a turnover on offense. His defense helped win the turnover battle, recording two interceptions, including one that set up a score.
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Fort Mill had a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter, as Orangeburg-Wilkinson looked ready to cap off a 68-yard drive. The Bruins had a first-and-goal at the Fort Mill 8, but could get no closer, eventually turning the ball over on downs.
After gaining possession at their own 10, Fort Mill found itself backed up to its own 4, after multiple penalties. Star senior Ronnie Hughes turned in a sparkling, one-handed snag for 18 yards on a third-and-17, then capped the drive with a 68-yard touchdown run that brought the packed home side to its feet.
“That was a huge catch,” said Susi of Hughes’ grab. “After (we had) penalty after penalty, they sucked it up and made a great play.”
As outstanding as the Yellow Jacket offense was in scoring on all six first-half offensive possessions, the defense was also up to the task. All five first-half Orangeburg-Wilkinson possessions ended without scores, including interceptions on back-to-back drives.
The Bruins scored on their first possession of the second half, capping an 85-yard, four-plus minute drive with a 2-yard score by Ricky Grimes. The Fort Mill defense again stiffened, forcing two punts and a turnover on downs.
Hughes had what may be described as a career quarter, as he tallied 99 yards on three touchdown carries over an eight-minute span of the second quarter. Hughes finished with 13 carries for 148 yards and three scores, along with hauling in two passes for 26 yards. Fort Mill quarterback Ryan Deluca completed 10-of-16 passes for 102 yards, adding 11 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson (2-2) got a 15-for-22 passing performance from quarterback Jashaun Grainger, who threw for 191 yards, despite the two interceptions.
“Well be working on that on Monday, said Susi of Orangeburg-Wilkinson’s lone second-half scoring drive. “You cant have a letdown. We had a great kickoff and everything, and they went and marched down the field. They’re athletic enough to do that to a lot of people.”
Fort Mill hosts York next Friday. That game will kick off at 7:30.
Fort Mill 41, Orangeburg-Wilkinson 7
FMHS - Jackson Randall 10-yard run (Josh Duffy kick) 9:09
FMHS - Duffy 35-yard field goal 2:54
FMHS - Ronnie Hughes 18-yard run (Duffy kick) 10:05
FMHS - Hughes 68-yard run (Duffy kick) 3:08
FMHS - Hughes 13-yard run (Duffy kick) 2:03
FMHS - Duffy 33-yard field goal :00
OWHS - Ricky Grimes 2-yard run (Clifton James kick) 7:40
FMHS - Ryan Deluca 1-yard run (Kyle Romenick kick) 2:52
RUSHING OWHS: Theo Johnson 12-33; Ricky Grimes 2-4; Jashaun Grainger 11-39; Matthew Jennings 1-(-2). FMHS: Ronnie Hughes 13-148; Shayne Boyle 2-11; Ryan Deluca 11-83; Jackson Randall 15-57; Gus Jarosz 4-23; Drew Hartman 5-34.
PASSING OWHS: Grainger 15-22-2-191 yards. FMHS: Deluca 10-16-0-102 yards.
RECEIVING OWHS: Bryce Rivers 5-75; Zach Felder 3-22; James Hamilton 3-69; Johnson 3-22; Jalen Darby 1-3. FMHS: Ethan Piercy 1-4; Boyle 1-17; Patrick Mead 1-9; Jarosz 3-33; Hughes 2-26; Thomas Chrisley 2-13.
RECORDS Orangeburg-Wilkinson 2-2; Fort Mill 2-2.