Defense set the tone for Irmo’s and Ridge View’s 4A Division I showdown Friday night at W.C. Hawkins Stadium.
The Blazers shut down Irmo’s rushing attack in the second half. However, after Ridge View sustained long drives, the Yellow Jackets halted the Blazers inside the Irmo 30-yard line three times in the final two quarters.
Add Shyheim Copland’s 10-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter, and the Yellow Jackets escaped with a 7-0 victory and will play White Knoll in the second round.
“This was a good defensive football game,” Irmo (7-5) coach Bob Hanna said. “Ridge View (6-6) has always been a good defensive football team. It’s a shame somebody’s got to lose.”
Copland led Irmo’s offense in the first half with 99 yards on 17 carries. The Yellow Jackets took over at their 3-yard line early the first quarter and drove 65 yards to the Ridge View 32. Blazers defender Daryl Shamlee ended that threat with an interception to end the first quarter.
Irmo held the Blazers on their possession and took over at its 42. The Yellow Jackets kept the ball on the ground for the 7-play, 58-yard scoring drive that Copland capped with a 10-yard touchdown run at the 7:18 mark of the second quarter.
Ridge View had a chance to score just before the half when Will Samuel picked off a Grant Davitte pass at the Irmo 26, but the Yellow Jackets held the Blazers and blocked a 23-yard Ridge View field goal attempt with one second on the clock.
Hanna said Copland suffered a slight concussion on his last carry before the half, a 1-yard run, and was not on the field.
“He did a heck of a job running the football,” Hanna said.
His replacement was starting running back Bryce Fashaw, the Yellow Jackets’ leading rusher who was on the bench in the first half. Ridge View, however, keyed in on Fashaw and he finished the night with 23 yards on 11 carries.
“We were going back and forth on defense and offense in the first half,” Ridge View coach Raymond Jennings said. “We challenged our guys in the second half, found something that worked and stayed with it.”
Ridge View’s offense had no problem getting rushing yards from Gary Bradshaw, who finished with 95 yards on 21 carries, and receiving yards from Tre’van Howell, who had seven catches for 103 yards.
But the Irmo defense clamped down on Ridge View each time the Blazers got near the goal line.
The Blazers drove 70 yards to the Irmo 10 on their first possession of the second half, but fumbled on fourth down.
Ridge View turned the ball over on downs at the Irmo 24 on the next possession, then fumbled on fourth down at the Irmo 43 on the next.
With less than three minutes to go, Bradshaw was hit in the backfield on fourth down at the Irmo 20.
“We drove the length of the field several times and didn’t come up with anything,” Jennings said. “That’s what happens in the playoffs, when you don’t turn those drives into points, you’re not going to win. We just made mistakes at the wrong time and didn’t capitalize.”
When Ridge View got the ball with less than two minutes to go, Ronald Millhouse picked off a Nolan Randolph pass to seal the win for the Yellow Jackets.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who are seniors that have really responded to what we asked them to do,” Hanna said. “They get after it and did a great job for us.”
I – Copeland 10 run (Hinson kick) 7:18