Second-year River Bluff opened the Region 5-4A campaign with a wild 42-31 win Monday over South Aiken. The Gators (6-1, 1-0) have three days to get ready for Friday’s showdown with archrival Lexington.
South Aiken (2-4, 0-1) has won only four region games since returning to the 4A ranks in 2010.
Tailing 13-10 at halftime, River Bluff erupted for 29 points in the third quarter. Tillmon’s 60-yard scoring run on the second play of the third quarter got things rolling. At one point, the Gators posted 15 points in 13 seconds.
Brandon Tillmon: The gifted senior quarterback put his versatility on display. He ran for 125 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion, passed for 105 yards and two touchdowns, caught one pass for 42 yards and had one tackle for loss and one quarterback pressure on defense.
Davon Johnson: The senior athlete gave Tillmon a run in the highlight department with a 17-yard scoring dash, scoring receptions covering 29 and 58 yards and a connection with Tillmon on his only pass of the night.
Austin Pollard: The senior fullback ran for three yards in the first half and finished with a career-high 129 yards on just nine carries. He ripped off runs of 57, 28, 18 and 10 yards.
Justin Salters: Had a big kicking game for River Bluff – going 4-for-4 in PATs, hitting field goals of 38 and 41 yards after missing from 46 yards, booming three kickoffs for touchdowns and punting for 47 yards on his only attempt.
Bowen Smith: The South Aiken quarterback hit on 11 of 15 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns.
Tancey Richardson: The fleet South Aiken runner ran for 107 yards and one score and caught three passes for 103 yards and another tally.
On fire: River Bluff is riding a school-record six-game winning streak and is averaging 39.3 points per game during the surge.
Early rust: Both teams were in action for the first time since Sept. 25 and the layoff made for some sloppy play in the first quarter. The lone score was a short-field chance created by a River Bluff fumble. Otherwise, South Aiken had two snap miscues and six penalties while RB managed just 41 yards and was flagged four times.
How close was it?: South Aiken scored 13 points in the first half and produced 177 offensive yards. River Bluff posted 10 points and 178 yards on the attack in the opening 24 minutes. The difference prior to the break was the one turnover – a Tillmon fumble that set up the Thoroughbreds at the Gators 26-yard line.
Good enough: River Bluff’s point production matched the program’s second highest single-game total, but the 42 points on Monday was the most the Gators have ever tallied against a 4A foe.
THEY SAID IT
“We’re proud of our young men. We only had two days to get ready for South Aiken and they have some players.” – River Bluff coach David Bennett.
“It’s a great accomplishment, but I’m sure I’m just the first of many players (from River Bluff) to have the honor of being selected to the Shrine Bowl.” – Brandon Tillmon
73: The combined points scored was the highest total in any game in school history.
874: The combined yardage count in a game featuring little of defensive note. River Bluff finished with 449 yards (304 rushing), while South Aiken amassed 425.
HOW THEY SCORED
SA – Harold Hilton 11 pass from Bowen Smith (Marin Sanders kick), 2:49
SA – Tancey Richardson 80 pass from Smith (kick failed), 8:14
RB – Davon Johnson 17 run (Justin Salters kick), 7:33
RB – FG Salters 38, 0:53
RB – Brandon Tillmon 60 run (Salters kick), 11:14
SA – Zalair Knowles 30 pass from Smith (pass failed), 7:18
RB – Tillmon 1 run (Tillmon run), 6:10
RB – Johnson 29 pass from Tillmon (Salters kick), 5:57
RB – Johnson 58 pass from Tillmon (Salters kick), 1:33
SA –Richardson 62 run(kick failed), 0:48
RB – FG Salters 41, 9:48
SA – Knowles 40 pass from Smith (pass failed), 7:12
Rushing: SA: Richardson 16-107, Smith 6-29. RB: Tillmon 20-125, Pollard 9-129.
Passing: SA: Smith 11-15-0-275. RB: Tillmon 4-6-0-105, Johnson 1-1-0-42.
Receiving: SA: Richardson 3-107, Hilton 4-87, Kitchings 2-70. RB: Tillmon 1-42, Johnson 3-102, Kight 3-29.