An old rival made a return visit to Fort Mill playing a different foe for the first time Friday night.
In years past when Indian Land made a visit, it was to play the Yellow Jackets, but this time they met the Jackets’ rival in Nation Ford and left with a bad taste in their mouth losing 40-3.
Defensively, Nation Ford dominated Indian Land which put a smile on head coach Michael Allen’s face.
“Execution is what we are looking for,” Allen said. “Those guys (the defense) are driven. They play with passion. They are smart kids. They are doing what we are coaching them to do.”
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Both Nation Ford and Indian Land moved up classifications this year, the Falcons to 5A and Warriors at 3A, but the struggles hasn’t been as great for Nation Ford as it has been for Indian Land as they came in the game at 1-4.
Indian Land’s defense forced Nation Ford to punt on their first series of the game giving the ball to the Warriors a little past midfield. The Warriors couldn’t get anything going either, so they were forced to punt as well.
The Falcons got good field position to start their second drive just 42-yards from the end zone, however, freshman AJ Jefferson picked off a Kirk Rygol pass for the Warriors several plays later. The interception went for nothing as Indian Land offensively struggled against the Falcons’ defense and were forced to punt again.
Nation Ford was able to take advantage of the punt as sophomore Dewuan McCullum returned the ball to the 24-yard line of the Warriors, where three plays later senior Rese Turner would score on a five-yard run.
In the second quarter, the Falcons’ defense keyed in on the run, but Indian Land was able to open their offense up when they threw the ball, as they would pick up big chunks of real estate on pass plays. Sophomore quarterback Jay Hildreth hit sophomore Tyree Sistare for an 18-yard gain to get into the Falcons’ red zone.
Nation Ford got called for roughing the kicker as they plowed into sophomore kicker Brandon Dickerson on a 38-yard field goal, which gave the Warriors an automatic first down. Despite the extra effort, Indian Land had to bring Dickerson back on the field three plays later to kick it through the uprights to put the Warriors on the board.
The Falcons continued to pressure the Warriors’ run game throughout the second half. Offensively, Nation Ford continued to mix things up running and throwing the ball. Rygol hit senior Halen Burgess for a 10-yard touchdown about midway through the third quarter and Nation Ford would score again to open the fourth quarter as senior Trey Morris would score from 14-yards out on a pass.
After the Falcons got a safety, Nation Ford put together a five-play drive resulting in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Rygol to junior Montre Miller to extend the lead for the Falcons. Another Indian Land punt on their next series gave Nation Ford the ball on the Warriors’ 40-yard line to start and the Falcons wasted no time in pulling away. Rygol found McCullum in just two plays the second one resulting in a 42-yard touchdown.
The Nation Ford run defense was critical in the Falcons win as they stymied the Indian Land ground game. For years, Indian Land has been known for their running game, but the Falcons had them stuffed for only one yard of rushing in the first quarter. By the end of the first half, Nation Ford’s defense held Indian Land to negative one yard rushing on 21 attempts and 79 total yards passing. For the game, Indian Land had one yard of rushing on 35 attempts unofficially.
In the second quarter, Nation Ford got a safety after a Skyler DeLong punt pinned the Warriors at the two-yard line. Senior Corbin Tesimale then got the safety for the Falcons on the first play of the drive tackling Lee Massey in the end zone for the loss.
The Warriors struggles offensively begin with the offensive line, said head coach Michael Mayer.
“We haven’t been able to run the ball for two weeks,” Mayer said. “Our offensive line has got to go forward.”
Nation Ford travels to Clover to open Region IV-5A play next week, while Indian Land travels to Chester to open Region IV-3A play.
NFHS - Rese Turner five-yard run (Skyler DeLong kick), 5:32
ILHS - Brandon Dickerson 29-yard field goal, 7:51
NFHS - Corbin Tesimale safety, 5:46
NFHS - Montre Miller 19-yard pass from Kirk Rygol (DeLong kick), 4:11
NFHS - Dewuan McCullum 42-yard pass from Rygol (DeLong kick), 2:01
NFHS - DeLong 28-yard field goal, 0.4
NFHS - Halen Burgess 10-yard pass from Rygol (Lexi Dressing kick), 5:49
NFHS - Trey Morris 14-yard pass from Rygol (DeLong kick), 11:52
RUSHING Indian Land: Jay Hildreth 9-(-37), Lee Massey 6-2, Dillon Howie 4-(-4), Tyree Sistar 9-25, Logan Teeter 4-11, Matt Murray 1-(-2), Dorian Williams 2-6. NFHS: Kirk Rygol 7-35, Rese Turner 4-27, DJ Robinson 5-43, Josh Victorin 5-38, Chris Layle 2-10, Josh Ciccone 1-1.
PASSING ILHS: Jay Hildreth 9-15-0 108, Logan Teeter 1-3-0 5. NFHS: Kirk Rygol 20-27-1 261, Chris Layle 1-3-0 24.
RECEIVING ILHS: Matt Murray 2-10, John Gregory 3-51, Ryan Albino 3-29, Tyree Sistare 2-23. NFHS: Alex Stennett 2-30, Montre Miller 4-44, Ben Tuipulotu 1-20, Josh Ciccone 1-26, Halen Burgess 5-57, Dewuan McCullum 5-81, Trey Morris 3-29.
RECORDS Indian Land 1-5; Nation Ford 4-1.