The rematches keep coming for Silver Bluff.
A week after defeating Barnwell for a second time, the Bulldogs will face another team they beat this season, Bamberg-Ehrhardt.
“It’s good, and it’s bad,” Silver Bluff head coach Al Lown said of the squad his team needed a late rally to defeat 31-29. “It’s good because we know what they’re going to do. It’s bad because we know what they’re going to do is really good.”
The first time these teams met, it was a back-and-forth affair. The Bulldogs (10-1) jumped out to a quick 21-point lead, only for the Red Raiders (10-1) to come back and take a 29-28 lead of their own. The deciding points came from the foot of Pedro Zambrano, who booted a 40-yard field goal to seal it for the home team.
“It was a tale of two games,” Lown said. “We were able to scratch out a field goal there at the end to win, but we had the momentum early. They ended up swinging it their way late.”
Silver Bluff comes into the rematch fresh off of a shutout against rival Barnwell, 17-0. Bamberg-Ehrhardt had a more difficult time in its playoff game, having to rally from being down 18-0 with 8:49 to play to win 21-18 over Woodland.
Even though the Red Raiders trailed in both games, Lown remembers that they didn’t get away from their gameplan the first time these two teams met.
“They didn’t change anything; they kept running the ball,” he said. “We just couldn’t do anything to stop them. That Wishbone is something else.”
Coming off such a convincing win, though, Lown knows that his team is riding high. Unfortunately there was a major injury to Gyasi Yeldell, a player who is vital to both lines for the Bulldogs. He was diagnosed with a torn MCL on Friday night, and his status is questionable heading into the game.
One major way to remedy that loss, though, is for Silver Bluff’s offense to continue playing at the level that it did against the Warhorses.
“I’m pleased with the amount of first downs we had. I think it was 17 or 18 altogether,” Lown said. “We’re playing well on offense, and Jalen (Jackson) is perfect for what we do. He won’t take any chances or put us in any bad positions. He’s smart, and that’s the perfect combination for we need in a quarterback here.”
With Silver Bluff, it always comes down to the run game. Last week it had three backs with 83 yards or more – Dontay Ingram, Shaquez Wright and Myles Corbett – and there is also RJ Stallings, who’s a dynamic returner on top of being a strong rusher.
“We’re fortunate enough with the good backs we have that can run, block and catch,” Lown said. “If someone keys in on one back, we have someone else who can handle the load. Each one of them has had big games at different times this year. They all have the attitude that they just want to do what’s best for the team, and they aren’t selfish at all.”
Of course, with a matchup of these two teams, it would be hard to overlook special teams. Zambrano was the difference-maker in the first tilt, and it’s likely that he’ll be key in the rematch.
“Special teams is huge; Pedro has been kicking it off routinely into the end zone, I’d say, three out of every four kicks,” Lown said. “You measure that out during an entire game, and that’s a couple of first downs that he negates by forcing teams to come out to the 20 instead of having the chance at a return.”
By winning the previous game, the Bulldogs have the luxury of home-field advantage. Instead of going on an hour-long bus ride, Silver Bluff will be able to play in front of its home fans.
“It’s big having home-field advantage,” Lown said. “We knew that when we got it there was a good chance at this scenario, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.
TONIGHT’S GAME WHO: Silver Bluff (10-1) vs. Bamberg-Ehrhardt (10-1) WHAT: Third round of the Class AA, Division II playoffs WHERE: The Bluff, Petticoat Junction WHEN: Tonight, 7:30 LAST MEETING: Silver Bluff beat Bamberg-Ehrhardt 31-29 in September