South Aiken and Midland Valley's battle in the fourth quarter of the Aiken County Jamboree looked to be headed for a stalemate, when the Thoroughbreds' drive stalled with under a minute left to play. However, a Terrance Sanders fumble recovery gave South Aiken another crack at getting on the scoreboard.
“There's only so many chances you can give a DI quarterback out there, and he's going to make you pay,” Midland Valley head coach Rick Knight said after the game. “Unfortunately we fumbled the ball, they got one more chance and he made us pay.”
Knight was referring to Thoroughbred quarterback Bo Baldwin, who wasted no time getting in the end zone once he received a chance to put his team ahead in the waning seconds. Baldwin found Matt Albertson in the back of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass to put South Aiken up with less than 10 seconds left in the game.
The Baldwin-to-Albertson connection was one of the few passing highlights for the Thoroughbreds in a game where Baldwin went 2 of 6 for 36 yards. However South Aiken's running backs got loose often. Albertson rushed two times for 51 yards and Damion Brown ran three times for 31 yards.
“For them to run the ball like that and connect on that pass and give us the win was big for our confidence headed into next week,” South Aiken head coach Jeremy West said. “We overcame a lot of early mistakes in the game and that's good.”
The game started out rough for South Aiken. On the first play from scrimmage, the Thoroughbreds turned the ball over on a fumble. The following possession featured two fumbled snaps before they had to punt the ball. Compounding on the issue, Rasool Clemons went down on the next possession and came off the field vomiting. He would return to the game two possessions later.
“He's fine,” West said. “He just got a knee to the stomach, but he's a tough kid.”
Clemons was in the Mustang's backfield putting pressure on quarterback Daniel Carr. The Midland Valley offense didn't get much going on the night, partially due to the Thoroughbred defense and partially by design. The Mustang's efforts were run heavy, with Drekwon Carr leading the way with seven carries for 21 yards.
“We came out and didn't do anything to fancy on offense on purpose,” Knight said. “We just wanted to get out of here a couple of guys did make some plays.”
One of those plays included a catch by Kameron Brown, who leaped with two South Aiken defenders in a battle for the ball ended up making the catch on his back for a 31-yard pass completion. The completion was the only one on the night for the Mustangs, who attempted six passes. West was pleased with the strong defensive showing in the game.
“The season hasn't started yet and we've got a long way to go but I think we're making some strides on defense,” he said. “It was tough last year and we knew we had to address that in the offseason and through the scrimmage and tonight we're showing progress.
West said defense will be important for the Thoroughbreds season opener against Richland Northeast next week.
West's counterpart Knight was also focused on his team's season opener with North Augusta in two weeks.
“We're just taking it day-by-day,” Knight said. “North Augusta is on our mind and that's it.”
Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. He graduated from USC Aiken with a degree in communications.
South Aiken 7
Midland Valley 0
SA – Bo Baldwin 25yd pass to Matt Albertson (Hamilton Kick) 00:08