NORTH AUGUSTA 43, NATION FORD 29
NORTH AUGUSTA — Friday night's Class AAAA, Division II showdown between North Augusta and Nation Ford at Jackets Stadium turned out to be a battle between a high-flying passing attack and a stellar running back.
The running back won, as senior DeVonte Pressley racked up 256 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries to boost North Augusta (9-3) to a 43-29 victory.
Head coach Dan Pippin was complimentary of the senior back and his blockers up front.
“I think he's really good,” Pippin said of Pressley. “I think the offensive line stepped up tonight and played well.”
The Jackets got the ball to start the game, and Pressley put on a clinic. He had nine carries for 66 yards and a 5-yard score to put the Jackets up 7-0. After Nation Ford (7-5) answered with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Helms to AK McCoy to even the score, the visiting Falcons ended the next North Augusta drive with a Jordan Causey interception of a Trib Reece pass.
The visitors couldn't capitalize, though, and Pressley found the end zone for the second time in the quarter, scoring from 46 yards out to give the Jackets a 14-7 lead.
The senior said he wasn't aware of the staggering 143-yard performance he put on in the opening quarter.
“I honestly did not know,” he said, also tossing credit to his offensive linemen. “It was great for me to put points up on the board, for them to open up holes and us to play hard.”
The Jackets padded their lead in the second quarter, with senior Trey Morgan running in a 5-yard touchdown run as a Wildcat quarterback to push the lead to 20-7 after a missed extra point. Reece was the next to put points on the board for the home team with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Devin Grimes to give North Augusta a 27-7 lead with a little less than 5 minutes remaining in the half.
The Falcons threatened to score twice more before the break but failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal from the North Augusta 5-yard line with about 2 minutes to go in the half. Nation Ford managed to get the ball back again before the break, but its efforts were thwarted when Helms had a pass tipped and North Augusta's Cameron Hampton hauled it in to give the Jackets possession and secure the 20-point halftime lead.
Pippin said the red zone stops were a credit to his assistant coaches and the solid players on the defensive side of the ball, many of whom are set to return for another season.
“I've got a great defensive coordinator in Derrick Quinn, and we've got pretty good players up front,” Pippin said. “We've got seven guys who are going to be coming back next year, so it's real good.”
Nation Ford got the ball to start the second half and made the best of the opportunity when senior Daniel Jackson punched in a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Jackets were quick to answer with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Reece to Morgan, but Nation Ford drove back down the field to bring the score to 34-21 on a 4-yard run by Jackson.
The Falcons appeared to have swung the momentum in their favor by forcing the Jackets to punt on the ensuing drive, but a costly error sealed their fate. With the punted ball bouncing around, Nation Ford's DeMarcus Thompson tried to field it under pressure and made contact before the Jackets scooped it up. That gave the home team the ball on the visitors' 25-yard line with about a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. Early in the fourth, Willie McCloud made the Falcons pay with a 4-yard touchdown run to push the score to 41-21.
The teams traded turnovers from there, and North Augusta added two points on a safety when Kris Howard sacked Helms for an 8-yard loss in the end zone. The Falcons added another touchdown when Helms found Dijuan Ussery for a 36-yard score and converted the two-point try, but the onside kick was unsuccessful.
Helms finished with 331 passing yards and two scores on a 21-of-38 performance, and Ussery had eight catches for 144 yards and a score.
The Jackets will now hit the road to play No. 3 seed Greenwood (12-0) next Friday, a matchup Pippin said will require his team to work on “everything” if it hopes to win.
“They're great. They're 12-0 right now, and they've got a great coaching staff,” he said of the team that ended the Jackets' playoff run in 2010. “It'll be a great place to play; it'll be a great atmosphere. It'll be a lot of fun, though.”
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
NF 7 0 14 8 – 29
NA 14 13 7 9 – 43
NA-DeVonte Pressley 5 run (Dylan Davis kick) 6:09.
NF-Dalton Helms 60 pass to AK McCoy (Corey Condron kick) 5:09.
NA-Pressley 46 run (Davis kick) 2:02.
NA-Trey Morgan 5 run (kick failed) 7:33.
NA-Trib Reece 28 pass to Devin Grimes (Davis kick) 4:42.
NF-Daniel Jackson 1 run (Condron kick) 8:26.
NA-Reece 26 pass to Morgan (Davis kick) 6:52.
NF-Jackson 4 run (Condron kick) 3:40.
NA-Willie McCloud 4 run (Davis kick) 10:54.
NA-Helms tackled in end zone by Kris Howard. Safety.
NF-Helms 36 pass to Dijuan Ussery (2-pt pass Helms to Hank Tuipulotu) 1:41.
NF-Helms 7-27, Jackson 10-35-2TD, Andrew Barr 4-13, Riley Hilton 1-(-3), Kenny Settle 1-1. Totals 23-73-2TD.
NA-Pressley 43-256-2TD, Morgan 4-9-1TD, McCloud 4-21-1TD, Reece 2-9. Totals 53-295-4TD.
NF-Barr 3-43, McCoy 2-63-1TD, Ussery 8-144-1TD, Tuipulotu 4-44, Riley Hilton 3-19, Dylan Yagle 1-18.
NA-Grimes 4-51-1TD, Morgan 6-72-1TD, Dre Dunbar 2-17.
NF-Jordan Causey 1-0, Tyler Howington 1-0.
NA-Cameron Hampton 1-2.