Pointed win for Silver Bluff Bulldogs
PETTICOAT JUNCTION — Shaquez Wright made the play of the game in Silver Bluff’s razor-thin 13-12 win over Edisto in a critical Region 5-AA game Friday.
Although the Bulldogs’ workhorse running back carried the ball 19 times for 127 and a touchdown, it was a play he made on defense that turned out to be the difference in the contest. Silver Bluff (7-1, 3-0) was clinging to a one-point lead with less than six minutes to play in the game after Edisto (5-3, 2-1) scored a touchdown.
Shrine Bowl quarterback Tyrell Maxwell connected with Daniel Seawright on an 8-yard score. Rather than try an extra point with his backup kicker, Cougars head coach Andy Palmer elected to go for the lead with a 2-point conversion try. Maxwell rolled to his right and threw the ball to the end zone as Silver Bluff’s pressure closed in on him. The ball never made it to the intended receiver as Wright, who moonlights on defense in critical situations, batted it up in the air before settling under it for a play-killing interception.
“It came down to the extra points, not being able to convert,” said Palmer, who explained his regular kicker had broken his wrist two weeks ago and Brandon Dykes was doing his best to fill in after being called up from the junior varsity squad. Dykes was wide right on his only PAT kick following a first-quarter Edisto touchdown. “I had a decision to make and decided to go for the win. We just didn’t execute the play. We didn’t execute when we needed to.”
That was the case when the Cougars got the ball back with 3:21 to play after forcing the Bulldogs to go three-and-out. Maxwell tried to mount a rally, but only succeeded in gaining 12 yards while running more than two minutes off the clock. When his last pass attempt fell to the field incomplete, it allowed Silver Bluff to go into the victory formation to clinch the hard-fought win.
“Credit goes to defense and defensive staff tonight. They coached, great game and had a great gameplan,” Bulldogs head coach Al Lown said of his assistants. “We only let them get in end zone twice, our defense came through. Defense was the difference tonight.”
The Cougars were balanced, running for 141 yards – 79 from Maxwell – and passing for 131 more. But as both coaches alluded, finishing drives and posting points was the issue. Silver Bluff also struggled in this regard. On its first two possessions it drove into the red zone and came away without a point.
“They basically beat us up front. We’re not coming off the ball and hitting them the way we should,” Lown said. “Missed some open people when we had to throw play action. We have to do a better job blocking.”
It wasn’t until the Bulldogs, fourth possession that they finally broke through. They had a short field, starting on Edisto’s 36 after a good punt return. It took Wright two carries to tie the score at 6-all. Silver Bluff placekicker Nick Casares had his PAT blocked.
Silver Bluff didn’t have to wait nearly as long before its second score. It took advantage of another short field after recovering a fumble on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter.
This time, it was RJ Stallings who finished off a three-play, 28-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown score. On his second attempt, Casares easily split the uprights.
The rest of the game mirrored the first half. It was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams moving the ball well in between the 20s but doing nothing other than Maxwell’s late strike to Seawright. In spite of his impressive stats, Maxwell was under pressure all night. Silver Bluff’s defensive line was dogged in its pursuit of him and Kurlton Falconer had three sacks.
“Poured our guts out,” Lown said. “(Edisto puts) a lot of pressure on you with (Maxwell) and all he can do. Linebackers, defensive end and defensive line played great. Sucked it up.”
Lown was as pleased with his offense. For the first time all season, quarterback Jaylen Lawrence looked like a first-year starter and was 0-for-5 passing.
“He’s played great all year. Missed some open people tonight. One bad game out of seven, he’s going to come back and he’ll play well the rest of the year,” explained Lown, who recognized the significance of this win, as it puts his team in the driver’s seat toward another region title. “Puts us in great shape. We’ve got to win one out of the next two to win the region. That gets us a bye. This was huge. Knew this was big, we’ve had it circled for about six weeks now.”
Silver Bluff will try to get that win next week when it hosts Calhoun County. Palmer said his Cougars will try to get back on track and play better against Wade Hampton.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.
ED 6 0 0 6 – 12
SB 0 6 7 0 – 13
ED–Tyrell Maxwell 5 pass to Tyler Hickson (Brandon Dykes kick no good) 2:23.
SB–Shaquez Wright 2 run (Nick Casares kick blocked) 1:57.
SB–RJ Stallings 6 run (Casares kick good) 10:47.
ED–Maxwell 8 pass to Daniel Seawright (2-point pass intercepted by Wright) 5:45.
ED–Tyrell Maxwell 23-79, Keyonte Furtick 7-34, Larry Moorer 3-17, Walter Easley 3-11.
SB–Shaquez Wright 19-127 1TD, RJ Stallings 6-44 1TD, Myles Corbitt 4-23, Deangilo Drayton 2-13, Kenny Lamar 1-7, Jaylen Lawrence 7-(-6).
ED–Tyrell Maxwell 10-22-131 2TD
SB–Jaylen Lawrence 0-5-0
ED– Will Seth 3-59, Daniel Seawright 3-24 1TD, Tyler Hickson 2-24 1TD, Larry Moorer 2-24.