SOUTH AIKEN 20, LEXINGTON 14
South Aiken took a 16-game losing streak into Friday night's home against Lexington, but the T-Breds came out with a 20-14 win over the defending Region 5-AAAA champion Wildcats.
Head coach Jeremy West was happy to pick up his first region win as T-Breds' head coach, especially for the players that stuck with the program through tough times, like seniors Teddrick Steadman, DeAndre Schoultz and Evan Kearse.
“It's big,” a choked-up West said. “These kids have been through a lot.”
The two teams struggled through the first half. The first quarter saw four combined drives end in four punts, but South Aiken (1-7, 1-1 Region 5-AAAA) appeared to have found something close to the end of the frame. The T-Breds drove down to the Wildcat 25-yard line, only to have a penalty push them backward before Jordan Carr intercepted a Bo Baldwin pass to end the South Aiken scoring chance.
The T-Breds came up with a big defensive play of their own on the next drive, dropping Altyree Walker for a loss on fourth down, but the ensuing South Aiken drive ended in another punt.
Then it was Lexington's turn to march downfield as they moved the ball all the way down to the T-Breds' 27-yard line before defensive end Rasool Clemmons forced a fumble that was recovered by junior Rod Wise.
Clemmons disrupted the Wildcat backfield all night and made several big plays, including the forced fumble and a few drive-halting tackles.
“He's a special player,” West said of his 6-foot-6, 176-pound sophomore.
A pair of penalties pushed the T-Breds back to a first-and-17 situation on their own 7-yard line, but a pair of first-down runs by Bo Baldwin had them on the move. The drive was derailed by mistakes, though, including a missed option pitch from Baldwin to Adam Allen. The teams traded punts and went to the locker room in a scoreless tie.
In all, the T-Breds lost 90 yards on 10 penalties and made other mistakes, but West said their ability to overcome those gaffes defined his team in the win.
“That's what we do here, overcome adversity,” West said.
Lexington (2-6, 0-2) took the first crack at overcoming scorelessness in the second half, driving down to the T-Bred 24-yard line before a Will Hunter incompletion on fourth-and-8 ended the drive.
Behind Baldwin and Allen, the T-Breds responded. They moved down the field on a mix of runs and a couple passes before facing a fourth-and-8 of their own on the Wildcat 30-yard line. Baldwin appeared to be shaken up by a hard hit near the home sideline and was set to miss the crucial fourth-down play, with Will Holbrook lined up to take the snap.
Lexington called a timeout, though, and Baldwin returned to his post. Holbrook didn't miss his chance to shine, though, as Baldwin found the junior on a 30-yard touchdown pass to give the home team a 7-0 lead with about four minutes left in the third quarter.
West said the lead was important for his team.
“That's why we wanted the ball first,” he said. “We hadn't had a lead all year. We wanted to see how we'd react to that.”
The instant reaction wasn't great, as Lexington struck back in less than 2 minutes with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Hunter to Keelo Norris to tie the game.
T-Bred junior Jordan Scott gave the home team its momentum back on the ensuing kickoff, though, as his 37-yard return and a 5-yard facemask penalty gave South Aiken the ball in Wildcat territory. After Baldwin converted on fourth-and-inches as the third quarter came to a close, Allen found the end zone on a 1-yard run to return the lead to the home team.
Allen finished the night with 181 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, an especially impressive feat considering the junior left last week's loss to Dutch Fork with a minor injury.
“He was huge,” West said. “He had been nicked up the last couple weeks.”
The T-Breds weren't through coming up with big plays. Lexington looked to be headed for a tying score with a first-and-goal on the South Aiken 9-yard line when Grayson Chumley fumbled the ball and senior Terell Johnson recovered.
Baldwin and Allen led the team downfield again, with Allen breaking off a 41-yard run and Baldwin punching in a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal to push the score to 20-7 with 35 seconds left in the game after a botched extra-point snap. Baldwin went 7-of-14 passing on the night for 96 yards and ran for 31 yards, and he had a touchdown running and throwing.
Lexington made it interesting with a 72-yard tipped touchdown pass from Hunter to Walker, but Steadman fell on the onside-kick attempt to end the threat. Walker finished the game with 72 rushing yards on 12 carries for the Wildcats to go with four catches for 89 yards and a score.
South Aiken will look to build on its momentum when it hosts North Augusta next week, and Lexington will look for its first region win when it travels to play Aiken.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
LEX 0 0 7 7 – 14
SA 0 0 7 13 – 20
SA-Bo Baldwin 30 pass to Will Holbrook (Owen Myers kick) 4:01.
LEX-Will Hunter 55 pass to Keelo Norris (Adrian kick) 2:23.
SA-Adam Allen 1 run (Myers kick) 10:16.
SA-Baldwin 1 run (pass failed) :35.4
LEX-Hunter 72 pass to Altyree Walker (Leon kick) :11.1
LEX-Walker 12-72, Hunter 3-(-3), Grayson Chumley 16-105. Totals 31-174.
SA-Baldwin 18-31-1TD, Damion Brown 3-6, DeAndre Schoultz 1-25, Teddrick Steadman 1-6, Allen 23-181-1TD. Totals 46-249-2TD.
LEX-Walker 4-89-1TD, Bryson Stokes 3-52, Norris 1-55-1TD.
SA-Schoultz 2-27, Steadman 2-27, Ryan McNutt 2-12, Holbrook 1-30-1TD.
LEX-Jordan Carr 1-27.