Despite a month left in the season, the rivalry game between Fort Mill and Nation Ford meant more for playoff implications than it has in recent years as the Falcons took advantage of four Jackets’ turnovers to win 49-27.
Defensive stops by Nation Ford gave the Falcons the upper hand in the first half as they intercepted Fort Mill senior quarterback Rogan Wells once and also recovered a fumble.
Fort Mill played the game without junior Ronnie Hughes, a main cog in the Jackets’ offense, who was out with a separated shoulder.
Defense for both teams stopped the other on their opening drives. On the second drive, Nation Ford struck first as senior quarterback Cole Martin hit senior Hank Tuipulotu for a 24-yard pass.
That set up a 24-yard touchdown pass to junior Alex Stennett to put the Falcons on the board first. Fort Mill bounced back, scoring exactly three minutes later as Wells hit junior Thomas Chrisley for a 38-yard touchdown in an eight-play drive.
Fort Mill fumbled for the second time in the game on its first drive of the second half. Nation Ford’s senior Greg Wilson recovered the fumble and the Falcons started at the Jackets’ 43-yard line. The Falcons also got a big pass interference call in their favor, putting them at the 21-yard line where senior Tyree Chaplin ran the ball in on the next play to extend the Nation Ford lead.
Nation Ford extended its lead to 12 in the third quarter as Martin hit senior Josh Shade for a 90-yard touchdown just 22 seconds after Fort Mill had scored. The score took the air out of Fort Mill as the momentum quickly shifted back to the Falcons.
With Fort Mill knocking on the door of the end zone in the second quarter, the Jackets fumbled at the eight-yard line of the Falcons. Nation Ford took the ball and drove 92-yards as Martin hit Stennett for a 25-yard touchdown to give the Falcons a 19-13 lead.
Martin led Nation Ford going 23-34 passing for 395 yards and five touchdowns. Helms caught nine passes for 93 yards and Shade caught six passes for 180 yards. Wells went 31-50 for 337 yards. Brett Ferguson ran for 54 yards on 17 carries for the Jackets.
Nation Ford 49, Fort Mill 27
Nation Ford 13;6;16;14-49
Fort Mill 7;6;7;7-27
NF-Cole Martin 24-yard pass to Alex Stennett (Skyler Delong kick), 6:38
FM-Rogan Wells 38-yard pass to Thomas Chrisley (Taylor Sheets kick), 3:38
NF-Martin 19-yard pass to Jordan Helms (kick failed), 58.9 seconds
FM- Wells 10-yard pass to Chrisley (kick failed), 7:22
NF-Martin 25-yard pass to Stennett (kick failed), 39.1 seconds
NF-Tyree Chaplin 21-yard run (conversion failed), 10:16
FM-Wells eight-yard run (Sheets kick), 5:58
NF-Martin 90-yard pass to Josh Shade (Lexi Dressing kick), 5:36
NF-Dressing 22-yard field goal, 2:37
FM-Wells four-yard run (Sheets kick), 8:18
NF-Chaplin three-yard run (Dressing kick), 4:34
NF-Martin to Helms 17-yard pass (Dressing kick), 2:18
Rushing Nation Ford: Cole Martin 4-13, Rayquwan Taylor 8-40, Tyree Chaplin 6-45, Jordan Helms 1-(-6), Josh Shade 1-20. Fort Mill: Rogan Wells 20-47, Brett Ferguson 17-54, Ryan Deluca 3-13, Gus Jarosz 2-3.
Passing Nation Ford: Cole Martin 23-34-0 395 yards. Fort Mill: Rogan Wells 31-50-2 337 yards.
Receiving Nation Ford: Hank Tuipulotu 3-47, Jordan Helms 9-93, Alex Stennett 4-62, Josh Shade 6-180, Tyree Chaplin 1-13. Fort Mill: Hunter Helms 7-49, Gus Jarosz 8-82, Patrick Mead 2-20, Thomas Chrisley 5-93, Ryan Deluca 2-22, Ethan Piercy 5-43, Antonio Shepherd 2-18.
Records Nation Ford 5-2, 2-0 Region III-4A; Fort Mill 5-3, 1-2 Region III-4A.
Fort Mill goes on the road to take on Rock Hill, while Nation Ford host York at home.