Lexington coach Scott Earley was hoping his team had turned the corner with consecutive victories after opening the season with four straight losses.
North Augusta had other ideas.
The Yellow Jackets scored rapidly and in a variety of ways in a 44-6 pasting of Lexington on Friday night at Wildcat Stadium in the Region 5-4A opener for both schools.
Things turned sour on the opening drive and never got better for the Wildcats.
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North Augusta took 1:27 to grab the lead, and it never looked back. Trib Reece threw a short screen to Devin Grimes on the fourth play of the game, and after making a couple of moves at the line, he raced 46 yards for the touchdown.
Lexington looked to answer and looked good in converting two fourth downs on its opening drive. The Wildcats drove inside the red zone, but a dropped pass on 4th-and-4 from the 19 ended the scoring threat.
The Wildcats’ second drive covered 60 yards in 10 plays but ended without points. Earley elected not to kick a field goal from the 1-yard line, and the Yellow Jackets stopped Bryson Stokes about a half yard short of the end zone on fourth down.
The Yellow Jackets then drove 99 yards in 15 plays, overcoming two penalties that negated two touchdowns. Trey Morgan capped the drive with a 4-yard scoring run.
“It was huge,” North Augusta coach Dan Pippen said of his defense’s two early stops. “It was a big momentum swing for us. After that second one, we went right down and scored. Momentum in high school sports is key. And we used that to our advantage in the first half.”
That started a stretch in which the Yellow Jackets (5-2, 1-0) scored four touchdowns in 7:15. After holding Lexington to a three-and-out, Morgan added his second score on another 4-yard run to push the lead to 20-0 with 4:59 remaining in the half.
Lexington (2-5, 0-1) answered with its best drive of the half when Grayson Chumley rumbled 30 yards to cap a 7-play, 70-yard drive to make it 20-7. Chumley was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats with 135 yards on 21 carries.
The Wildcats were hoping to get in the locker room with a two-touchdown deficit, but the final two minutes turned disastrous.
Two plays after the Chumley score, Dre Dunbar broke free behind the Lexington defense and scored on a 82-yard pass from Reece to push the lead to 26-6.
After going three-and-out with a sack and penalty, the Wildcats shanked a 23-yard punt to give North Augusta the ball at the Lexington 28 with 1:12 to go in the half. Three plays later, Grimes powered in from 4 yards out to make it 34-6 at the half.
“The scores just before the half were key too,” Pippen said. “They had gotten close and were going to get the ball to start the second half, and then anything could have happen.”
Reece, a sophomore, was making his second start in place of the injured Cody Turner. He finished with 287 yards and two touchdowns passing and another rushing. Morgan had two rushing scores, and Grimes had two receiving touchdowns as North Augusta rolled up 488 yards — 383 coming in the first half.
“That was our best performance of the year,” Pippen said. “We’re inexperienced, but we keep getting better and better. I thought we had a great game plan defensively against a quality football team. Reece played pretty well. He’s played well since we put him in there.”
NA – Devin Grimes 46 pass from Trib Reece (Dylan Davis kick) 10:33
NA – Trey Morgan 4 run (kick failed) 7:41
NA – Morgan 4 run (Davis kick) 4:59
L – Grayson Chumley 30 run (run failed) 2:53
NA – Dre Dunbar 82 pass from Reece (kick failed) 2:05
NA – Grimes 4 pass from Morgan (Logan Wooward pass from Morgan) :26
NA – Reece 1 run (Davis kick) 9:44
NA – Davis 24 FG 6:06
Rushing: NA – DeVonte Pressley 15-90, Trey Morgan 6-30, William McCloud 6-49, Davel McClendon 1-19, Dashaw Barnes 4-10, Trib Reece 1-1, Team 1-(-1). L – Grayson Chumley 21-135, Slade Carroll 10-24, Will Hunter 7-7, Bryson Stokes 1-1, Team 1-0, Ryan McCrary 1-(-5), Jordan Carr 1-(-5).
Passing: NA – Reece 10-12-0-287, Morgan 1-1-0-4. L – Hunter 6-17-1-39, McCrary 1-3-0-6
Receiving: Dre Dunbar 3-154, Trey Morgan 4-57, Devin Grimes 2-50, Antwan Andrews 1-19, Pressley 1-11. L – McCrary 3-20 , Keelo Norris 1-12, Al Walker 1-8, Jayson Hopper 1-6 Stokes 1-(-1).