JOHNSTON — By the time Strom Thurmond quarterback Jauveer Hammond threw an incomplete pass in Friday’s 42-13 win over previously unbeaten Brookland-Cayce, he had already led the Rebels to a two-score lead.
That point came with 1:20 left in the first half, with the Rebels (5-1, 1-0 Region 5-AAA) driving to expand on a 21-7 lead over the Bearcats (5-1, 0-1).
“He had another good night,” head coach Lee Sawyer said of Hammond. “We’re starting to get some confidence throwing the ball.”
Hammond completed his first nine passes on the way to a 13-of-17 performance for 201 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. He might’ve kept the streak going, but the 10th attempt was a screen pass that the Bearcat defense had covered, resulting in an intentional throwaway.
“Coming off of the loss, we knew we had to get better,” Hammond – who also ran for 50 yards on nine carries – said of the team’s mindset after a 27-20 loss to Class AAAA power North Augusta last week.
His passing numbers seemed like they might take a back seat, as the Rebels came out on their first possession with a focus on the run. After holding Brookland-Cayce to just one first down on the game’s opening drive, Strom Thurmond marched down and scored on an 11-yard run by Delonte Bates.
Bates, despite splitting the rushing load several ways on a night when Strom Thurmond racked up 271 rushing yards, finished the game with 103 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
“He’s awful shifty,” Sawyer said of the senior. “He’s hard to find back there.”
The Bearcats had an answer on their next drive. After getting good field position around midfield, they showed a running attack of their own, and 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback Zeke Walker punched in a 1-yard run to even the score.
Hammond began his aerial assault on the next Rebel drive, which he finished with a 36-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass to Kendall Hill. The Rebels scored again before the half, this time on a 5-yard scamper by Deandre Ryan.
The Bearcats looked like they were going to cut it closer just before halftime, but the home defense tackled Walker near its own 7-yard line as the horn sounded.
While Sawyer said he’s trying to figure out what is causing his defense to allow offenses to move the ball into the red zone, he’s pleased with his defenders’ resolve.
“I will say they don’t lose faith,” he said. “They keep battling.”
After the break, the teams traded long but fruitless possessions as the Rebels turned the ball over on downs and the Bearcats missed a field goal. That’s when Hammond delivered his most impressive throw of the night, in Sawyer’s estimation.
With the ball resting at midfield a few plays into the drive, Hammond took the snap and rolled to his left. Nearing the sideline, he saw junior Tyree Stidem streaking beyond the last Bearcat defender, squared his shoulders and hit him in stride for a 50-yard touchdown.
Hammond said his thoughts were simple when he saw the play develop.
“If he’s open, it’s ‘free money,’” the senior said with a smile.
The Bearcats started the fourth quarter with possession but turned the ball over on downs, and Hammond put in one more drive to finish his night. With 9:28 remaining in the game, he hit Hill for another touchdown pass, this time from 7 yards out.
Hill finished the night with six catches for 85 yards and two scores, while Stidem had six for 99 yards and a score. Stidem also relieved Hammond at quarterback for the last couple drives, completing three passes for 50 yards and scoring on a 5-yard run.
Brookland-Cayce found the end zone one last time on a 1-yard pass from Walker to Bernard McCall, but only 34 seconds remained. Walker got his numbers in the loss, completing 14 of 22 passes for 186 yards and a score to go with 60 rushing yards. He also threw a fourth-quarter interception, which linebacker Chandler Talbert collected on a play that had been giving the Rebels trouble.
“Chandler got up under it and made a great play on the ball,” Sawyer said.
The Rebels will next hit the road to play Airport (1-5, 0-1) next Friday, while the Bearcats will host Gilbert (3-3, 0-1).
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
BC 7 0 0 6 – 13
ST 7 14 7 14 – 42
ST–Delonte Bates 11 run (Cole Fell kick) 6:50.
BC–Zeke Walker 1 run (Jacob Smoak kick) 1:04.
ST–Jauveer Hammond 36 pass to Kendall Hill (Fell kick) 10:29.
ST–Deandre Ryan 5 run (Fell kick) 4:31.
ST–Hammond 50 pass to Stidem (Fell kick) 1:03.
ST–Hammond 7 pass to Hill (Fell kick) 9:28.
ST–Stidem 5 run (Fell kick) 2:34.
BC–Walker 1 pass to Bernard McCall (kick failed) :34.4.
BC–Walker 9-60-1TD, Ti Myers 11-52, AJ Brown 5-27, Quinton McMilan 4-10, Cam Brown 5-9, Bernard McCall 1-5, Team 1-(-6). Totals 36-157-1TD.
ST–Bates 9-103-1TD, Chad Gilchrist 11-87, Hammond 9-50, Ryan 3-14-1TD, Trevonte Watkins 11-27, Stidem 6-(-10)-1TD. Totals 49-271-3TD.