BARNWELL 21, SILVER BLUFF 14
PETTICOAT JUNCTION — The Barnwell-Silver Bluff rivalry had an old-school feel to it Friday night, as the teams slugged it out for the entirety of their 48-minute contest.
The stakes weren't the same as those classics, but the intensity – on the field and off – was.
Barnwell turned in a classic Warhorses performance in the second half by pounding the ball and controlling the clock, and the No. 2 team in the state left Petticoat Junction with a 21-14 win after sealing the game with an interception deep in their own territory.
"We did some things in the first half that really put us in a bind," said Barnwell coach Dwayne Garrick, whose team was in a bind right out of the gates after fumbling the opening kickoff. "...Not being able to punch it in on the 10 here and not being able to punch it in on the 10 down there, that was pretty crucial, too."
Jamari Chisholm's 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the only score in the second half, and it punctuated a classic Barnwell drive. The Warhorses (3-0) held the ball for just over 7 minutes on the possession, and they turned a 14-13 deficit into a 21-14 lead.
That they only trailed by a point at the half was huge. Silver Bluff (1-1) was looking to add to its 14-7 lead in the final seconds of the second quarter after John Green intercepted Craig Pender for a second time and raced down to the Barnwell 14-yard line with 4.2 seconds to go.
The field goal unit came out onto the turf, but Oscar Lopez's kick was blocked. The Bulldogs couldn't fall on it, and Deshawn Watson scooped it up and raced in from 59 yards out for the touchdown with all zeroes on the clock.
"I don't know so much about momentum, but any time you can squeeze in points like that, it helps," Garrick said. "It's a lot different mentality going down a touchdown (versus) going down by one point. They've got a great football team; I'll be honest with you. The kids fly around. They play hard."
Silver Bluff couldn't capitalize on Barnwell's fumble in the opening seconds, and the Warhorses took the lead a few minutes later when Dallyon Creech caught a Pender pass and scored from 50 yards out. Creech had 185 yards of offense, and he and Chisholm – 73 yards on 20 carries – were huge in the run game in the second half.
The Bulldogs answered, though, late in the first quarter when Darius Johnson ran straight up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown.
Silver Bluff forged ahead in the second quarter when Jamaal Washington found Ja'Cory Tanksley for a 32-yard touchdown – on fourth-and-long – and the Bulldogs looked every bit up to the task of taking down Class AA's second-ranked team.
"I knew we were hungry," Silver Bluff coach De'Angelo Bryant said. "We had a really good week of practice. I told those guys before the game I expected for us to be in a dogfight with them. They wanted to be in a dogfight. That's what really matters – they wanted to.
"We just made too many mistakes tonight. Even as coaches, we've got to do a better job putting them in better positions. But we'll rectify that. We're a young team, we're still getting to know each other. But that's no excuse. We'll come back ready to go."
Silver Bluff drove down near the Barnwell 20 to start the fourth quarter, after Willie Powell recovered a Barnwell fumble deep in Bulldogs territory to end the third, thanks to some strong running by Jimmie Foreman. Foreman, the reigning Aiken Standard Player of the Week, had 63 yards on nine carries.
That drive stalled, though, at the Barnwell 24. The Warhorses took over with 8:59 left in the game, and they went right back to the run game. They made it inside the Silver Bluff 10, but couldn't convert on fourth-and-1 at the 9. Still, the drive drained more than 7 minutes off the clock, leaving Silver Bluff with under 2 minutes to try to tie it up.
Washington directed the Bulldogs down the field, reaching the Barnwell 41 with 34 seconds to go. His long heave from there, though, was picked off by Demarion Ginn, and the Warhorses were able to kneel it out from there.
Friday night's game was the first in the rivalry to be decided by single digits since Silver Bluff's 28-27 win late in the 2012 season. It had been all Barnwell the last two years, with the Warhorses winning by a combined score of 91-23, but Friday night's game was anything but a blowout.
It happened in front of a packed house, fans spilling out from the stands and lining the fence all around the field. They were treated to the kind of hard-fought battle the rivalry is known for.
"South Carolina football isn't South Carolina football without Barnwell-Silver Bluff, and I want to let everybody know that," Bryant said. "Coach Garrick, he did a really good job over there. He got those guys coached up. A guy that I really admire in the coaching game. He and I both looked at each other – there wasn't nothing that we really needed to say, but we knew the rivalry was back. Those guys are going to do some good things over there, and we're gonna do some good things over here as well."
Barnwell hosts Burke next Friday, and Silver Bluff visits Denmark-Olar.
Barnwell 7 6 8 0 — 21
Silver Bluff 7 7 0 0 — 14
B — Craig Pender 50 pass to Dallyon Creech (Dawson Zorn kick) 6:07
SB — Darius Johnson 22 run (Oscar Lopez kick) 2:15
SB — Jamaal Washington 32 pass to Ja'Cory Tanksley (Lopez kick) 4:04
B — Deshawn Watson 59 blocked field goal return (kick missed) 0:00
B — Jamari Chisholm 4 run (Chisholm run) 4:50
B — Dallyon Creech 12-87, Jamari Chisholm 20-73-1, Craig Pender 3-5, Brandon Harvey 3-1. Totals 38-166-1.
SB — Jimmie Foreman 9-63, Darius Johnson 3-50-1, Jamaal Washington 10-0. Totals 22-113-1.
B — Craig Pender 10-14-127-1-2.
SB — Jamaal Washington 14-32-130-1-1.
B — Dallyon Creech 5-98-1, Ty Frazier 5-29. Totals 10-127-1.
SB — TJ Green 4-42, Latavian Lawrence 3-33, Ja'Cory Tanksley 1-32-1, Darius Johnson 1-13, John Green 1-6, Jimmie Foreman 3-2, Jamey Bing 1-2. Totals 14-130-1.
B — Demarion Ginn.
SB — John Green (2).