NORTH AUGUSTA 44, LEXINGTON 6
LEXINGTON — Late in the second quarter of Friday night's high school football game at Lexington High School, the home team had just marched 70 yards down the field for a touchdown that cut North Augusta's lead to 20-6. The Wildcats, who were set to receive the kickoff to start the second half, looked to have momentum on their side after running back Grayson Chumley rumbled 30 yards for a touchdown, and they pinned the Yellow Jackets on their own 14-yard line to start the next series.
There was only one problem: There was nearly 3 minutes left on the clock before halftime, too much time to give North Augusta and its quick-strike offense.
It figured the Yellow Jackets would be able to drive down the field and give themselves a chance to score again before the half ended. They did – twice.
Sophomore quarterback Trib Reece only needed two plays to hit paydirt. He read an overplay by Lexington's defense and connected with a wide-open Dre Dunbar on an 81-yard touchdown pass.
The possession was so fast that when North Augusta's defense forced Lexington to go three-and-out on the next series, it got the ball back again with excellent field position. Three plays later, Wildcat-formation quarterback Trey Morgan completed a 3-yard pass to Zach Wilson in the end zone for another score which put the Yellow Jackets up by 28 points and put the game out of reach. North Augusta tacked on 10 points in the second half for a 44-6 win to give it a 1-0 start in Region 5-AAAA play.
“I'm happy with the kids; they played and responded, and I'm real happy,” North Augusta head coach Dan Pippin said after avenging last year's 59-56 loss to Lexington. “This is big for us. This is our 40th win in four years, and we're only seven games into this season. That says a lot about the kids.”
While it was a milestone night for the program, it was another breakthrough performance for Reece. For the game, he completed 9 of 11 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to his 81-yard strike to Dunbar, Reece also connected with Devin Grimes on a 45-yard touchdown for the first score of the game, giving North Augusta (5-2, 1-0) a lead it never relinquished.
“I really enjoyed staying in the pocket, but all the credit goes to the line and the receivers who caught the ball,” Reece said. “It was a big win coming up here on homecoming and getting a blowout like we did.”
Reece's lightning-fast score to Dunbar was the play that changed the complexion of the game. It happened because Reece recognized a defensive formation from something the Yellow Jackets saw on film during the week. When facing four wide receiver sets, Lexington (2-5, 0-1) had a habit of moving its safety to one side of the field, leaving somebody with a one-on-one matchup. Reece saw that and hit Dunbar, who shed his defender and was completely uncovered on the left sideline, where he raced the rest of the way for the score.
“It was a good read,” Pippin said. “Trib is managing the game good now – he's pretty good for a sophomore. He understands what we're trying to do.”
What the Yellow Jackets are doing is playing at a rapid pace and knocking opposing defenses on their heels. When Reece wasn't orchestrating the offense, he gave way to Morgan, who had his most impactful game of the season for the North Augusta attack.
In primarily as running threat, Morgan had a terrific all-around game. He had four carries – in the red zone – for 9 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed two pass attempts, including the unexpected score to Wilson.
“It's something we work on all the time, throwing with him,” Pippin said of Morgan, He also had three receptions for 42 yards. “We've got good balance with him and Trib.”
Both benefitted from strong line play by the Yellow Jackets' front five and the threat of DeVonte Pressley. The senior tailback finished the game with 89 yards, but 61 came in the first quarter when North Augusta came out running. That early impact forced the Wildcats to honor the run and created mismatches on the perimeter. One came in the first quarter when Grimes caught a short out from Reece, made a couple of moves and raced into the end zone untouched. Grimes had a good night defensively, shutting down Lexington's attempts at a vertical passing game and making an interception.
There was so much offensive fireworks in the game, the effort of North Augusta's defense was lost in the shuffle. The Wildcats were able to run the ball, especially in the first half. Chumley finished with 129 rushing yards. But when they were in critical situations, it was the Yellow Jackets that made the big play. Twice in the first quarter, Lexington drove into the red zone to be faced with fourth down scenarios. Both times, including fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line, North Augusta made the stop and swung momentum in its favor by giving the ball back to the offense.
“The defense stepped up, and the kids executed well,” Pippin said before shifting his thoughts to next week's game against White Knoll. “It's one win. It's very good to get to go home.”
Noah Feit is the Sports Editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.
NA 7 27 10 0 – 44
LEX 0 6 0 0 – 6
NA–Trib Reece 45 pass Devin Grimes (Dylan Davis kick).
NA–Trey Morgan 4 run (Davis kick failed).
NA–Morgan 4 run (Davis kick).
LEX-Grayson Chumley 30 run (2-point conversion pass failed).
NA–Reece 81 pass Dre Dunbar (Davis kick failed).
Morgan 3 pass Zach Wilson (Morgan 2-point conversion pass Logan Wooward good).
NA–Reece 1 run (Davis kick).
NA–Davis 24 Field Goal.
NA–Devonte Pressley 14–89, Willie McCloud 6–46, Trey Morgan 4–9-2 TDs, Daniel Pippen 1–7, Chris Price 3–5, Trib Reece 1–1-1 TD, TEAM 2–20.
LEX–Grayson Chumley 20–129-1 TD, Slade Carroll 10–28, Will Hunter 8–7, TEAM 1–0, Ryan McCrary 1–(-6).
NA–Trib Reece 9-11-255-2 TDs, Trey Morgan 2-2-33-1 TD.
LEX–Will Hunter 6-17-38-1 INT, Ryan McCrary 2-4-0.
NA–Dre Dunbar 3–152-1 TD, Devin Grimes 1–45-1 TD, Trey Morgan 3–42, Antuan Andrews 1–19, Zach Wilson 2–18-1 TD, Devonte Pressley 1–12.
LEX–Ryan McCrary 3–19, Keelo Norris 1–12, Altyree Walker 1–8, Jayson Hopper 1–5, Bryson Stokes 1–(-1), Jordan Carr 1–(-5).
NA–Devin Grimes 1–27.
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