SUMTER - The surprise of the high school football playoffs did it again.
Spartanburg, with a losing record this season, bounced another heavyweight from the 4A postseason Friday night with a 28-14 win against Sumter at Memorial Stadium.
The Vikings, 3-8 during the regular year with a loss to Sumter, continued the impressive turnaround and advanced to the third round of the postseason. Last week, they surprised Rock Hill.
"When they believe they can, they will," Spartanburg coach Freddie Brown said. "Confidence is all there is to it."
Confidence, along with a defense that forced five turnovers and a quarterback who accounted for 324 yards of total offense and all four touchdowns, two though the air and two on the ground.
Cornelius Jones threw 15 passes, completing 10 for 225 yards. He tossed a 59-yard touchdown to Mykelle Jones and a 75-yarder to Arland Woodruff. Cornelius Jones scored on a 7-yard run in the first quarter and put the game away with a 64-yard TD sprint in the fourth quarter after the lead had been shaved to seven.
"We're trying to build the program and get it back to where it belongs," Brown said. "It's a long process. We're not were we need to be yet with all the pieces. But you can see the heart in these kids. They played hard and they beat a great team in Sumter."
Special teams for Spartanburg (5-8) set the tone early on a muffed punt return and then a field goal that was blocked. The Gamecocks (10-3) seemed to grab momentum to start the second half by recovering a fumble but lost it immediately when Daquan Brown made an interception for the Vikings on the next play by Sumter.
"Our defense played extremely well," Brown said. "We got timely turnovers, had great play calling and really played well on that side of the ball."
Sumter scored on a 50-yard halfback pass from Tevin McKnight to Aeduann McClary to make it 21-14 with 9:25 remaining. But it took Spartanburg just three plays to get that back as Cornelius Jones darted through the middle and outran the defensive backs for the game-sealing touchdown.