STROM THURMOND 21, SOUTH AIKEN 7
Both sides made their share of mistakes in Friday’s game between South Aiken and Strom Thurmond at the T-Breds’ Stomping Ground.
The visiting Rebels capitalized on South Aiken’s gaffes and made up for their own in a 21-7 Strom Thurmond win.
“They never quit battling,” Strom Thurmond (4-0) head coach Lee Sawyer said specifically about his defense. “They make a big stop ... they just never quit. Awful proud of their effort.”
He pointed to a crucial drive late in the third quarter that involved both sides of the ball. With his team leading 14-7, the Rebel defense forced a turnover on downs, but quarterback Jauveer Hammond threw an interception that was snagged by Will Holbrook. The senior linebacker returned it to the Rebel 5-yard line, but the Strom Thurmond defense capitalized on a series of penalties that pushed the T-Breds (1-4) back to the 20-yard line at one point.
The home team eventually tried a 31-yard field goal, but the snap went over the holder and kicker’s head and gave the Rebels possession at midfield.
“It killed us,” said South Aiken head coach Jeremy West of his team’s mistakes, which also included three fumbles involving quarterback Bo Baldwin. “We can’t ever get over the hump until we clean those things up. ... We can’t have self-inflicted wounds; that just kills us.”
Strom Thurmond hurt itself with a personal foul on the ensuing drive and turned the ball over on downs, but Baldwin’s final fumble of the night on an errant toss to Adam Allen proved to be the final wound.
Hammond responded with a 22-yard bruising touchdown run that included a spin move in traffic to push the game to its final margin.
“He’s just a team leader,” Sawyer said of his quarterback. “Couple bad reads during the night, but he never gets rattled, and he sees how his boys were playing after that pick. Sees how his defense was playing, and he’s got a killer instinct when he gets back there to try to make something happen to make up for that mistake.”
The Rebels started the night’s scoring on their opening drive. After keeping the T-Breds in check on the night’s first possession, the visitors marched down the field on a drive that ended with a 3-yard run by Delonte Bates. The senior led the Rebels in rushing with nine carries for 74 yards and a score.
South Aiken was driving on the next possession and even converted a fourth-and-8 on an Allen run, but a miscommunication on a handoff from Baldwin to fullback Ryan McNutt halted the drive at the Rebel 8.
The T-Bred defense forced a three-and-out right away, giving their offense the ball back at the Rebel 38.
“We played good sound fundamental football on defense and made tackles and made good reads at linebacker,” West said.
His team capitalized this time with a drive that ended on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Baldwin to Skyler Lightbody, who fought his way into the end zone to tie the game at 7-all.
The T-Bred defense stood tall again on the next Rebel possession, capped by a Rasool Clemons sack of Hammond near midfield on third-and-12.
A few minutes later, South Aiken had an opportunity to at least take the tied score into the half with the ball near their own 40 and less than a minute remaining. Baldwin fumbled attempting to escape pressure, and the Rebels recovered with 17 seconds left in the half to set up a 32-yard touchdown pass from Hammond to Kendall Hill. Hammond finished the night with 66 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and he completed 9 of 13 passes for 103 yards.
That made the score 14-7 at the half, a deficit the T-Breds never escaped.
They’ll try to right the ship on the road at Spring Valley next week, while the Rebels will travel to play North Augusta in a highly-anticipated matchup.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
ST 7 7 0 7 – 21
SA 0 7 0 0 – 7
ST-Delonte Bates 3 run (Cole Fell kick) 6:35.
SA-Bo Baldwin 9 pass to Skyler Lightbody (Owen Myers kick) 9:52.
ST-Jauveer Hammond 32 pass to Kendall Hill (Fell kick) :01.6.
ST-Hammond 22 run (Fell kick) 5:45.
ST-Bates 9-74-1TD, Hammond 15-66-1TD, Chad Gilchrist 7-28, Trevonte Watkins 3-25. Totals 34-193-2TD.
SA-Adam Allen 21-87, Baldwin 8-6, Damian Brown 10-34, Matt Albertson 2-(-2), Bowen Smith 1-6. Totals 42-131.
ST-Deandre Ryan 5-65, Hill 3-39-1TD, Tyree Stidem 1-(-1).
SA-Lightbody 3-24-1TD, Albertson 2-18.
SA-Will Holbrook 1-35.
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman South Aiken's Skyler Lightbody (5) looks to evade the tackle of Strom Thurmond's Terrance Grim.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Strom Thurmond's Deandre Ryan (8) runs after a catch against South Aiken.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman South Aiken’s Adam Allen (8) runs against Strom Thurmond.×
Staff photo by Jeremy TImmerman Strom Thurmond's Cody Griffith puts the brakes on South Aiken's Damian Brown (6).×