Irmo continued its mastery of Blythewood on a soggy Friday night at Blythewood District 2 Stadium, downing the Bengals 25-7 in a key Region 4-4A game.
The Yellow Jackets (5-5, 3-1) beat the Bengals for the fourth time in as many tries with the bonus of securing second place in the region and a first-round home game in the 4A Division II playoffs.
Shyheim Cooper ran for 116 yards, and quarterback Demetrius Lewis threw for one touchdown, ran for another and contributed on special team with a 41.4-yard average on eight punts, but the play of the Irmo defense paved the way to the important win.
“Shyheim ran well, and Demetrius did enough on the passing game under the conditions, but this was the best game of the season by our defense,” Yellow Jackets coach Bob Hanna said. “We have a bunch of Hobbits, a bunch of Smurfs, but they play hard and get after it.”
Irmo feasted on Blythewood turnovers, scoring all four of its touchdowns either directly or indirectly off Bengal miscues. In all, the Yellow Jackets intercepted two passes and recovered four fumbles.
Blythewood finished with 137 yards, 78 of which came on one play — a catch-and-run touchdown by Jacob Rabon that opened the scoring on Blythewood’s third offensive play.
“This was a huge game because second place and a home game went to the winner,” said Blythewood coach Dan Morgan, whose team dropped to 6-4, 2-2. “Irmo earned it because they made the plays, and we didn’t.”
The game turned in Irmo’s favor in a 76-second span late in the first half.
The change started when Khari Stone-Marshall scooped a fumble at the 6-yard line and splashed in to cut the Blythewood lead to 7-6 with 1:46 left in the second quarter. After the defense forced a Bengals punt, the Irmo offense, which was 0-for-3 in red zone chances to that point, produced its first points on a 39-yard scoring pass from Lewis to Channing Quattlebaum. Lewis lofted the pass over a Blythewood defender, and Quattlebaum made a sliding catch in the right corner of the end zone.
The critical score came with 30 seconds left in the first half and staked Irmo to a 12-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Lewis scored on a 5-yard run in the wake of a fumble recovery by Jalen Bell at the Blythewood 19.
Safety Calvin Rowland added the final touch with a 46-yard interception return touchdown with 7:02 remaining.
Hanna likes his team’s chances of making a playoff run.
“We came out of the blocks 0-4 against some good teams and had opportunities to win all of those games,” the Jackets veteran coach said. “Our kids never got down, they just went back to work and a lot of good things have happened. Our goals are still ahead of us, and I like where we’re at.”
Blythewood likely has enough points banked to make the postseason cut even if it loses to Ridge View in the regular-season finale next week.
“But I don’t what to back into the playoffs,” Morgan said. “I want us going in full steam ahead, so we have to get off the mat.”
B – Jacob Rabon 78 pass from David Israel (Greg Huegel kick), 7:07
I – Khari Stone-Marshall 6 fumble return (kick failed), 1:46
I – Channing Quattlebaum 39 pass from Demetrius Lewis (run failed), 0:30
I – Lewis 5 run (Cameron Hanna kick), 11:50
I – Calvin Rowland 46 interception return (kick blocked), 7:02