STROM THURMOND 42, SWANSEA 7
SWANSEA — On a night when Swansea honored its 1991 state championship team, it was unable to do what so many other teams have also been unsuccessful at: slowing down the 2012 Strom Thurmond Rebels.
The Rebels (7-1, 3-0) scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter to build a lead that would be insurmountable for the Tigers (7-1, 2-1).
“Well, coming into this one, we felt like we had to have it,” Strom Thurmond head coach Lee Sawyer said. “We felt like they hadn't faced anyone like us, though, and it proved to be true.”
The win was also extra special for Sawyer, as it was his 100th overall win as a coach. It also moved him into a tie with Keith McAlister for the school record with 91.
Coming into the game, the vaunted Tiger defense allowed a total of 40 points in their seven victories. They were unable to find an answer to Darius Hammond, though, who had 176 yards and two touchdowns. Jauveer Hammond also had a strong night of his own, with 111 yards on the ground, another 53 through the air and two total scores.
“I've very satisfied with our offense tonight,” Sawyer said. “They were able to do that against the No. 3 team in the state and that defense. I feel like they came out a bit flat in the second half, but I can't complain. We did a great job with big plays.”
Those big plays include Darius Hammond's 67-yard touchdown, which came on the Rebels' first offensive play after the Tigers had tied the game early in the second. Minutes later, Jauveer Hammond rushed 60 yards for a touchdown of his own. Then, on their next drive, on a play where he was running from multiple Swansea defenders, Jauveer Hammond threw a jump ball into the end zone, which Ty Brooks came down with.
“I just had trust in the team and knew we could do this well if we executed,” Strom Thurmond running back Darius Hammond said.
Of course, the offense only tells half the tale. Strom Thurmond's defense performed so well that they were greeted with standing ovations after some key stops from the fans that made the trek from Johnston. They were able to hold Travis Loadholt, who had rushed for 860 yards on the year, to 73 on 18 carries. Quarterback Jordan Chavis threw four interceptions on the game, one of which came on the Tigers' first pass attempt in the game. Israel Talbert returned that one 41 yards for a touchdown and added another pick later in the game.
“Talbert had a phenomenal game,” Sawyer said. “They came out, and they were going to try to pick on him.”
It was obvious from the get go that Swansea wanted no part of Aaron Cook, who locked up Swansea's leading receiver, Robbie Brown, and held him to a single catch. Instead they tried to pass on the 5-foot-9 Talbert, who not only had the two picks but also broke up multiple passes and broke up a handful of plays that would have resulted in Tiger first downs. Cook rested for the second half with a cramp, but Sawyer said after the game it was no reason for concern and that the team was just being cautious.
The Rebels were also aided by Swansea punter Arthur Myers, who refused to kick to Darius Hammond or Ty Brooks. Multiple punts went right out of bounds and gave Strom Thurmond the ball right at midfield.
“I told them that if they aren't going to kick to us, it could end up helping us in the end, and tonight proved that,” Sawyer said. “It's hard to try and angle a kick away from someone while also getting some yardage on it.”
Next week Strom Thurmond will head to Gilbert, while Swansea looks to get back on track against Brookland-Cayce.
Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.
ST 7 28 0 7 – 42
S 0 7 0 0 – 7
ST-Israel Talbert 41 INT return off Jordan Chavis (Trent Miller kick) 10:39
S-Travis Loadholt 3 rush (Arthur Myers kick) 11:59
ST-Darius Hammond 67 rush (Miller kick) 11:29
ST-James McKie 4 rush (Miller kick) 5:05
ST-Jauveer Hammond 60 rush (Miller kick) 3:53
ST-Jauveer Hammond 30 pass to Ty Brooks (Miller kick) 31.2
ST-Darius Hammond 7 rush (Miller kick) 7:04
ST-Darius Hammond 17-176, 2 TDs, Jauveer Hammond 16-111, 1 TD, James McKie 5-18, 1 TD, Delonte Bates 3-17, Trevonte Watkins 1-22
S-Travis Loadholt 18-73, 1 TD, Antonio Hipps 1-2, Randy Brown 1-1, Robbie Brown 1-0, Johnathon Sutton 1-(-4), Jordan Chavis 3-(-4)
ST-Jauveer Hammond 6-15, 53, 1 TD
S-Chavis 4-16, 44, 4 INT, Loadholt 0-1
ST-Ty Brooks 4-43, 1 TD, Kendall Gill 1-11, Darius Hammond 1-(-1)
S-Terrance Salley 1-29, Craig Johnson 2-10, Robbie Brown 1-5
ST- Israel Talbert 2-41, 1 TD, Kenyatta Dunbar 1-0, Hykeem Brooks 1-0