SILVER BLUFF 35, WADE HAMPTON 14
PETTICOAT JUNCTION — The two halves of Friday’s Region 5-AA football game between Silver Bluff and Wade Hampton looked vastly different, and the Bulldogs won both of them to take home the 35-7 victory.
Silver Bluff (6-1, 2-0) got 194 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on only 10 carries by senior RJ Stallings, but head coach Al Lown said his defense was the key against the Red Devils (3-4, 1-1).
“Second half, I thought our defense made a bunch of big plays, a couple of huge interceptions and fumble recoveries,” he said of a unit that pitched a shutout in the first half. “We gave up maybe 14 points there, but the defense came through there in the second half.”
In all, the Bulldogs forced four turnovers, three in the second half.
In what would become a theme of the game the teams started the game by each driving into enemy territory, only to turn the ball over on downs. Stallings got the scoring started with a 57-yard run midway through the opening quarter, but that was the only time either team found the end zone in the first half. Instead, there were five turnovers on downs, a fumble by Wade Hampton on the Silver Bluff 12 and an interception thrown by Jaylen Lawrence in the Red Devils’ red zone.
Lown attributed the sloppy start to the visitors’ effort.
“They were outhitting us in the first half,” he said. “They took it to us pretty good, and we didn’t respond very well.”
After a three-and-out and a botched punt snap that led to a short punt by Wade Hampton on the opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs had the ball at the Red Devil 45-yard line for their first try after the break.
They didn’t stay there long, as Stallings took it in from there on the first play of the possession to give the home team a 14-0 lead.
In addition to Stallings’ big night, fellow senior Shaquez Wright had 18 carries for 76 yards and two more touchdowns as part of a 386-yard rushing performance for the home team, but Lown still wasn’t thrilled with his offensive effort.
“I thought they played OK tonight,” he said. “Offensively, we didn’t have a very good game tonight and got out-hit, and we’ve got to do something about that.”
The team’s traded scores during the remainder of the third quarter, a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Sheldon Swofford to get the Red Devils on the board and a 20-yard scamper by Deangilo Drayton for Silver Bluff. After a Red Devil penalty, the Bulldogs converted a two-point conversion to go up 22-7.
The Red Devils had been moving the ball through the air for most of three quarters to that point, with Swofford connecting on five straight passes at one point, largely on short passes to the outside. The Bulldogs solved the puzzle for good late in the third quarter, as linebacker James Jacks picked off a Swofford pass toward the visitors’ sideline and took it back 36 yards to the Red Devil 2.
Jacks, who insisted he did not get pushed out before hitting the pylon for a would-be touchdown, credited coaching for the interception.
“Our coaches, we work on pass coverage – linebackers have got to hook the curl,” he said. “And I just saw it, and the opportunity presented itself.”
Silver Bluff punched in from there on a run by Wright to start the fourth quarter, but Nasir Pringle answered right back with a 75-yard interception return to bring the score to 28-14.
After the teams traded possesion, McKenzie Wilson intercepted another Swofford pass to give the Bulldogs a first-and-goal situation that they capitalized on with a 4-yard scoring run by Wright to put the game away with 6:46 remaining.
Lown said that Swofford – who completed 16 of 28 passes for 229 yards but threw the two interceptions – is just the latest in a line of quality signal-callers Silver Bluff has faced.
“We’ve seen a lot of good quarterbacks and a lot of good wide receivers,” he said, perhaps a nod to Daniel Gordon’s seven receptions for 105 yards for the Red Devils. “We made some good halftime adjustments by our defensive coaches.”
The Bulldog defense will need to continue adjusting with region foe Edisto and star quarterback Tyrell Maxwell coming into town next week, a game slated for 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
WH 0 0 7 0 – 7
NA 7 0 14 14 – 35
SB–RJ Stallings 57 run (Nicholas Casares kick) 6:28.
SB–Stallings 45 run (Casares kick) 10:11.
WH–Sheldon Swofford 1 run (George Skinner kick) 3:59.
SB–Deangilo Drayton 20 run (Stallings 2-point run) 1:20.
SB–Shaquez Wright 2 run (kick failed) 11:57.
WH–Nasir Pringle 75 kickoff return (Skinner kick) 11:41.
SB–Wright 4 run (Casares kick). 6:46.
WH–Tamauris Williams 8-15, Pringle 1-2, DJ Davis 4-21, Swofford 3-3-1TD, Donterrio Aiken 2-5, Israel Aiken 2-1. Totals 20-47-1TD.
SB–Stallings 10-194-2TD, Wright 18-76-2TD, Myles Corbitt 7-44, Jaylen Lawrence 8-18, Drayton 5-51-1TD, Jalen Douse 1-3. Totals 49-386-5TD.
WH–Williams 3-39, Brenden Strother 4-65, Daniel Gordon 7-105, Deonte White 2-15.
SB–Wright 2-15, McKenzie Wilson 2-25, Douse 1-36.
SB–James Jacks 1-36, Wilson 1-6.
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Silver Bluff’s McKenzie Wilson (12) makes a tackle on Wade Hampton’s Tamauris Williams (11).×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Silver Bluff's Jalen Douse (8) makes a grab against Wade Hampton's Bryson Butts (2).×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Silver Bluff's Shaquez Wright (5) holds on to the football while being tackled by Wade Hampton's Brantley Thomas (46).×