Pelion wrote a new chapter in program history last week in the Class 2A Division I state playoffs.
The Panthers, who drew a first-round bye, rallied to defeat Crescent 20-14 and move on to the third round of postseason play for the first time. Pelion was eliminated in the second round four times – 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007.
Ben Freeman’s club (7-4) hits the road to face Cheraw (7-4) in the Division I quarterfinals. The schools are squaring off in football for the first time.
The Panthers got the winning points on a 5-yard scoring pass from Zach Hawkins to Daniel Hawkins with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
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Senior QB Hawkins was a key man in the win. He was 3-for-4 passing for 34 yards, ran for 83 yards and one two-point conversion and had 11 tackles while taking a regular turn on defense.
In all, the Panthers produced 328 yards offensively while avenging last season’s first-round loss to Crescent. The signature ground game amassed 257 yards with Isaiah Jenkins (11-117), Ervin Green (16-80-1) and Hawkins making balanced contributions.
Hunter Duncan was the headliner up front, grading out at 95% for three knockdown blocks, one pancake and five so-called “big blocks.”
Linebacker Dustin Kirby led the way on defense with 16 tackles.
Pelion blanked Crescent in the second half, allowing the Tigers a meager net of 73 yards in the final 24 minutes.
The Panthers will need another solid defensive effort this week to keep their season alive.
Octavious Green (70 tackles), Zach Hawkins (60 tackles, 2 interceptions), Freddie Phillips (53 tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 PBU), Tripp Garris (54 tackles), Kirby (53 tackles and Ervin Green (49 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 3 PBU, one fumble recovery TD) are the defensive leaders.
Cheraw (7-4) eliminated Columbia, 26-6, last week after a first-round bye. The Braves had a great playoff run between 2002 and 2009. During the span Cheraw played in four consecutive 2A title games, winning back-to-back championships (2006-07) and never failing to advance at least to the third round.
Like Pelion, Cheraw prefers the running game with quarterback Robert Pitts the man who makes it all work.