If each game and each big play seemed to be magnified as the regular season and region races came to a close, then they were intensified even more by Friday’s bigger stage as the playoffs kicked off for all area teams but those in Class AAAA. Several local players played a big part in either extending their teams’ seasons or giving them a chance to advance, resulting in Game Balls being awarded on offense, defense and special teams.
Carr displayed his electrifying dual-threat abilities in the Mustangs’ 35-28 win over Beaufort. He amassed 341 yards of total offense – 190 passing, 151 rushing – and scored four touchdowns, including the game-winning TD pass to Stephon Morency with just 29 seconds to play.
It may not have been Homecoming this time, but Chisolm still terrorized the Fox Creek defense in a 50-30 win. The senior rushed for 197 yards on just 18 carries and four touchdowns – one in each quarter.
Davis and Jackson, the Bulldogs’ bookends on the defensive line, made life miserable for Jason Mims, Dalton Burbage and the rest of the Woodland offense in Silver Bluff’s 38-7 win. Their consistent pressure forced the Wolverines into a miserable night in which they gained only 74 yards of total offense and threw two interceptions.
Gibson had his second big game against Whitmire this season to power the Trojans into the second round with a 42-8 win. He rushed for 148 yards on only 14 carries and scored twice – from 13 and 25 yards out – as Ridge Spring-Monetta rode its run game to a dominant win.
Hightower had another big game for the Predators, turning eight catches into 108 yards and two touchdowns in their loss to Williston-Elko.
Strom Thurmond dominated the field position battle in its 45-13 win over Mid-Carolina, and Reel was a huge reason why. He was called on to punt five times, and the visiting Rebels’ five drives after those punts started on average at their own 28-yard line. He also drilled a 28-yard field goal and converted all five of his extra points.
Ryan showed exactly why he’s one of the most versatile playmakers in the area on Friday night, scoring a touchdown each rushing, receiving and passing. His 3-yard touchdown run gave the Rebels the lead heading into halftime, then his 45-yard touchdown catch and 24-yard scoring pass helped fuel a second-half rout.
Kyle Dawson covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @ItsKyleDawson.