Silver Bluff head coach Al Lown said he felt like his offense played well in the team's opening loss to Strom Thurmond. He saw the fruits of the Bulldogs' efforts Friday as Silver Bluff (1-1) went home with a 35-7 win over Aiken (0-1).
“Tonight we clicked. We had one turnover, never had to punt, and we played pretty physical out there,” Lown said. “It was good; we've been expecting those kind of performances, though. It was good to get that.”
The Bulldogs outgained the Hornets 329-191, with a bulk of that coming from seniors Shaquez Wright and RJ Stallings. Wright had 77 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to go with a 39-yard reception, while Stallings ran six times for 46 yards and caught two passes for 102 yards, one a 58-yard score.
“Shaquez Wright, Myles Corbitt, RJ Stallings – they carried the brunt of it all night,” Lown said.
Corbitt finished with five carries for 26 yards, while sophomore Deangilo Drayton ran four times for 23 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Silver Bluff scored three times in the game's opening half, with Drayton and Wright each finding the end zone in the game's opening quarter. Aiken fumbled away a possession between the two scores.
Bulldog quarterback Jaylen Lawrence gave his team a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, but Aiken appeared poised to get some momentum before the half. After a Dramel Coleman 26-yard run got the Hornets near the red zone, he and Nakeem Spann gave the home team a first-and-goal situation on the Bulldog 10-yard line. That's as close as they got, though, as negative plays backed the Hornets up before an apparent 20-yard touchdown run by Spann was erased by a blocking penalty.
Caleb Heath's pass toward the end zone was picked off by Darnell Davis, and the Bulldogs took a three-score lead into the half.
“I thought we were OK offensively between the 20s, and that same red-zone problem we've had all preseason long,” said Aiken head coach Brian Neal. “We're just not finishing drives.”
Spann opened up the second half with a 50-yard kickoff return to set up a drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Coleman.
“When we came out in the second half and answered, I thought that was encouraging to come out like that,” Neal said.
Coleman was the Hornets' offensive leader for the game with 46 yards and a score on 10 rushes to go with four catches for 28 yards.
Busted coverage kept the Aiken rally from sticking, with the Bulldogs scoring again within a minute of the Hornets' lone score of the game. Stallings was wide open downfield for the 58-yard passing strike from Lawrence that deflated Aiken's hopes.
“Those guys are amazing; they play defense the whole game,” Lown said of Stallings, Lawrence and others that play both ways. “It speaks a lot for our offseason conditioning.”
Lawrence finished the game 4-for-4 with 146 yards and a score through the air.
Defensively, Silver Bluff showed its strength when the unit's backs were against the wall. On two occasions counting the Hornets' final drive of the first half, Aiken drove down into the red zone and came away empty-handed. In a game that was 28-7 until Drayton's final score with less than two minutes remaining in the game, those two potential scores would have made a significant impact.
“Our defense is going to get better,” Lown said. “We have a lot of confidence in our coaches and those guys that it's going to get better.”
Aiken did tighten up on defense during the middle portion of the game, but Neal still saw plenty of areas for improvement in the lopsided loss. He placed much of the onus on his staff, saying it's up to the coaches to get the players ready for each game.
“We knew it was going to be a process,” he said. “We thought we would play better than we did tonight, to be honest with you.”
Aiken will try to right the ship next week when the Hornets host Beaufort, while Silver Bluff will try to post back-to-back wins when it hosts Southside Christian. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
SB 14 7 7 7 – 35
NA 0 0 7 0 – 7
SB-Deangilo Drayton 9 run (Nicholas Casares kick) 8:00.
SB-Shaquez Wright 11 run (Casares kick) 5:49.
SB-Jaylen Lawrence 1 run (Casares kick) 8:31.
AIK-Dramel Coleman 6 run (Jacob Norton kick) 9:16.
SB-Lawrence 58 pass to RJ Stallings (Casares kick) 8:21.
SB-Drayton 13 run (Casares kick) 1:53.
SB-Wright 13-77-1TD, Stallings 6-46, Myles Corbitt 5-26, Drayton 4-23-2TD, Lawrence 3-7-1TD, Kenny Lamare 1-4, Team 1-0. Totals 33-183-4TD.
AIK-Coleman 10-46-1TD, Jaylen Smith 7-42, D'Andre Pope 10-29, Nakeem Spann 6-27, Caleb Heath 2-13. Totals 35-157-1TD.
SB-Stallings 2-102-1TD, Wright 1-39, McKenzie Wilson 1-5.