Ben Hinson’s 52-yard field goal went far enough to erase Irmo’s frustrations at W.C. Hawkins Stadium on Friday night.
The Yellow Jackets passed and rushed for 494 yards against Ridge View, but four costly fumbles and an interception kept the Blazers in the game. Hinson’s kick with 2:34 left in the game proved the difference in Irmo’s 17-14 victory in the Region 4-4A opener for both teams.
“I wasn’t nervous or anything,” said Hinson, who had a blocked kick run back for a touchdown earlier in the game.
“I just went out there and did my job.”
Hinson’s job is secure, Irmo coach Bob Hanna said.
“I think he’s the best kicker in the state and he demonstrated that,” Hanna said. “It would’ve been good from 60.”
The Irmo (3-4) defense held Ridge View (3-4) to 37 yards on the ground and 216 total yards.
The Yellow Jackets put up huge offensive numbers, thanks to quarterback Grant Davitte, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown, and Bryce Fashaw, who rushed 19 times for 105 yards and a TD.
However, five Irmo turnovers stopped drives.
“Our offense moved the football,” Hanna said. “We left a lot of points on the field, but we found a way to win.”
The Yellow Jackets took a 14-6 lead on Fashaw’s 22-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter and looked to seal the game with an offense that started to click.
Ridge View defender Will Samuel picked off a Davitte pass to stop one drive late in that quarter. Early in the fourth, Chazz Nevis stripped the ball from Fashaw near midfield and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Nolan Randolph’s 2-point conversion pass to Tre’Von Howell tied the game at 14 with 11:47 left.
That set the stage for Hinson, who made a clean kick that sailed between the uprights.
“It was one of those games where we hoped to establish ourselves on special teams,” Ridge View coach Raymond Jennings said.
“We couldn’t get anything going, but we made a couple of plays on special teams. The difference is that they had a bigger leg than we did.”
Things didn’t start well for the Irmo offense.
Ridge View took a 6-0 lead on a blocked field goal attempt. Blazers defender Demario Evans got his hand on Ben Hinson’ 43-yard try. Teammate Cameron Armstrong scooped up the loose ball at the 33-yard line and darted down the left sideline untouched for the score.
After that, Irmo fumbled on its next possession midway into Ridge View territory. The Yellow Jackets defense stopped that drive when Cliff Barrett blocked the Blazers’ 32-yard try.
Irmo got on the board on its fourth possession, an 11-play, 84-yard drive. At the Blazers’ 32, Davitte found Trey Suber on a short route. Suber weaved past Ridge View defenders to complete a 32-yard touchdown catch-and-run with 1:54 left in the first half.
Hinson’s point-after gave Irmo a 7-6 lead going into the half.
R – Armstrong 67 fumble return (kick failed) 8:07
I – Suber 32 pass from Davitte (Hinson kick) 1:54
I – Fashaw 22 run (Hinson kick) 8:09
R – Nevils 48 fumble return (Howell pass from Randolph) 11:47
I – Hinson 57 field goal 2:34