High School Football

Fort Mill rallies for dramatic victory to open football season

Fort Mill's Gus Jarosz (2) heads upfield after a catch during the Yellow Jackets’ win over White Knoll at the Battle on the Bluff in Lexington Thursday.
Fort Mill's Gus Jarosz (2) heads upfield after a catch during the Yellow Jackets’ win over White Knoll at the Battle on the Bluff in Lexington Thursday. tdominick@thestate.com

Brett Ferguson scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds remaining to rally Fort Mill to a 33-28 victory over White Knoll on Thursday night in the opening game of the Battle on the Bluff kickoff to the high school football season.

The Yellow Jackets scored three times in the final 9:01 to rally for the victory. Ron’Tavious Hughes hauled in a 21-yard scoring pass from Rogan Wells to put Fort Mill on top 27-21 with 4:35 remaining. White Knoll struck back quickly by using a bit of trickery. Calev Grubbs threw a lateral to back-up quarterback Parker McInnis, who then threw a 77-yard scoring strike to Thomas Scott. After the extra point, the Timberwolves led 28-27 with 3:53 left in the game.

The game-winner by Ferguson capped an 11-play, 79-yard drive. Wells connected on a 40-yard pass play to Josh Duffy to move the ball into White Knoll territory. He later converted a fourth down play to keep the drive alive.

The Timberwolves drove to the Fort Mill 17-yard line with eight seconds remaininb but two passes into the end zone fell incomplete.

Turning point

Facing a fourth-and-17 with just under two minutes remaining, Wells hit Gus Jarosz on a 24-yard pass that moved the ball to the White Knoll 12-yard line. Three plays later, Ferguson scored the game-winner. Jarosz dropped a sure first down pass a couple of plays earlier.

Key performers

Ron’Tavious Hughes – The running back/wide receiver for Fort Mill did a little bit of everything. He totaled 188 yards of total offense – 103 rusing on seven carries and 85 on eight receptions. He added two touchdowns as well.

Rogan Wells – The three-year starter directed the Fort Mill offense. He was 15-for-25 for 205 yards and scored a rushing touchdown.

Gary Shell – The White Knoll running back scampered for 93 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.

Observations

▪  White Knoll allowed too many yards on first down. Fort Mill was continiously in second and short situtions, which allowed them to use entire playbook. White Knoll needs to find a way to keep teams behind the chains.

▪  No pass rush. Fort Mill quarterback Rogan Wells had a lot of time in the pocket. He missed some throws and his receivers had some drops but he had plenty of time to throw the ball. observation.

▪  These are two playoff teams. It was the season opener and both teams had costly penalties and mistakes but the talent is there for both of these teams to make the postseason. Whoever cleans up the mistakes best could make a run.

They said it

“We have to make plays. Fourth-and-17 with a chance to put them away and we didn’t do it. They didn’t do anything fancy. We were supposed to blitz and we didn’t do that very well and the guy doesn’t get over the top. It’s very frustratung.” -White Knoll coach Dean Howell

“The first half, we didn’t look very good. We kept battling but we didn’t play well from the third quarter on.” -Howell

“We’ve got young guys and this is their first time on varsity and we made some really dumb penalties and gave up too many big plays. But a win is a win and we’ll take it.” -Fort Mill coach Ed Susi.

Key numbers

1: The total yardage of a fourth quarter punt by White Knoll. The snap was mishandled and then the ball was partially blocked to give Fort Mill the ball at the Timberwolves 37. They scored three plays later.

80: Number of penalty yards for White Knoll. Several of those came at crucial times.

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