Stallings sparks Bulldogs to victory
SILVER BLUFF 36, SOUTH AIKEN 20
PETTICOAT JUNCTION — Less than six minutes into Silver Bluff’s 36-20 win over in-county foe South Aiken, RJ Stallings already had a “football hat trick” of sorts for the Bulldogs.
He scored three times three different ways in that stretch – a 50-yard run, 23-yard reception and a 45-yard interception return – and he added another rushing touchdown later in the half for Silver Bluff (3-1).
“I guess this night was my big night,” said the senior, who finished the game with 119 rushing yards on 12 carries to go with the four total touchdowns. “South Aiken is ... the team that we really want to show that we’re better and everything. But we just came out playing hard, hitting them in the mouth, doing what we do best.”
Head coach Al Lown was pleased with the effort he saw from Stallings on both side of the ball and thought the early 18-0 lead was what his team needed against a larger program like South Aiken (1-3).
“RJ is a two-way player,” he said. “It was big to jump on them early like that.”
Compounding Silver Bluff’s hot start, South Aiken struggled with the Bulldogs’ defensive intensity out of the gate. After Stallings’ first touchdown run, Gyasi Yeldell came off the corner early on the first T-Bred drive and drilled South Aiken quarterback Bo Baldwin from his blind side, jarring the ball loose.
The Bulldogs recovered, setting up Stallings’ second score, which was followed by his interception return touchdown.
“Silver Bluff’s a good football team, and we can’t give them any help,” said South Aiken head coach Jeremy West. “We can’t make mistakes, we can’t get crazy penalties. It’s a lack of discipline tonight, and that’s what it came down to.”
South Aiken was able to force a couple turnovers of its own in the first half and got a touchdown run from Adam Allen, but the Bulldogs took a 24-7 lead into the half after Jalen Douse collected his first of two interceptions on the night.
The T-Breds capitalized on their first possession of the second half with a sustained drive. Damian Brown, who led the T-Breds with 90 yards on nine carries, capped the ground-based drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to cut the Bulldog lead to 10.
The momentum didn’t last long, as Bulldog quarterback Jaylen Lawrence punched in a 3-yard run of his own on Silver Bluff’s next possession to stretch the lead back to 16, which he pushed to 36-14 with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Shaquez Wright early in the fourth quarter.
While Lawrence was a non-factor mostly as a running threat outside of the touchdown surge, his 6-of-7 passing night for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns with an interception was just what the Bulldogs need, according to Lown.
“He’s making smart decisions,” he said. “I think he threw one pass that got tipped down here, but he’s hitting the open people. And our offense, as much as we run the ball, we’re going to get people open, and if you hit them, we’re going to have big plays, so I was pleased with that.”
South Aiken scored again on a Baldwin pass to Matt Albertson to close within two scores and got a crucial stop that could have made things even more interesting, but a running into the kicker penalty deflated any T-Bred hopes of a comeback. They were able to keep the game within reach, in part, because of six failed point-after attempts by the Bulldogs.
Some were blocked kicks and some were intentional two-point efforts that failed, but in the end, the Bulldogs converted none of their tries after touchdowns.
“We’ve got to do a whole lot of work on that,” Lown said of extra points. “That was pretty, not very good tonight. But that’s a good thing to have to work on, I reckon.”
Silver Bluff will host Midland Valley next week, while South Aiken will host Strom Thurmond.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
SA 7 0 7 6 – 20
SB 18 6 6 6 – 36
SB-RJ Stallings 50 run (kick failed) 9:16.
SB-Jaylen Lawrence 23 pass to Stallings (2-point conversion pass failed) 7:42.
SB-Stallings 45 interception return (kick blocked) 6:39.
SA-Adam Allen 3 run (Owen Myers kick) 4:33
SB-Stallings 10 run (2-point conversion pass failed) 9:05.
SA-Damian Brown 4 run (Myers kick) 7:14.
SB-Lawrence 3 run (kick blocked) 1:23.
SB-Lawrence 30 pass to Shaquez Wright (2-point conversion run failed) 10:49.
SA-Bo Baldwin 23 pass to Matt Albertson (2-point conversion pass failed) 8:08.
SA-Allen 16-49-1TD, Baldwin 6-2, Brown 9-90-1TD, Jordan Scott 1-19, Team 1-(-5). Totals 33-155-2TD.
SB-Myles Corbitt 4-35, Stallings 12-119-2TD, Wright 16-80, Lawrence 6-(-7)-1TD, DeAngilo Drayton 2-14. Totals 40-241-3TD.
SA-Skyler Lightbody 2-33, Allen 1-9, Brown 1-5, Scott 1-12, Albertson 1-23-1TD.
SB-McKenzie Wilson 2-23, Stallings 1-23-1TD, Wright 2-50-1TD.
SA-Rod Wise 1-0.
SB-Stallings 1-45-1TD, Jalen Douse 2-53.