Lou Bezjak

Dutch Fork shows it can win close when needed

Dutch Fork's Blake Branham comes up with a game-sealing interception on a pass intended for Spring Valley's Marcus Simpson in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Dutch Fork's Blake Branham comes up with a game-sealing interception on a pass intended for Spring Valley's Marcus Simpson in the fourth quarter Friday night. jblake@thestate.com

On several occasions this season, Dutch Fork has shown the ability to blow teams out.

But in Friday’s 30-19 win over Spring Valley, the Silver Foxes proved they can win close games, too. Dutch Fork scored the final 16 points in the game to remain one of the three unbeaten teams in the Midlands, along with Gilbert and WW King.

“We have a refuse-to-lose mentality,” Dutch Fork coach Tom Knotts said. “We have to play better. We’re living dangerously. I don’t know when we’re going to learn our lesson.”

It was the first time the Silver Foxes, the No. 1 team in Class 5A, had been pushed in the fourth quarter since defeating Summerville 30-28. Dutch Fork won the game after only having the ball for just 16:29. The Foxes outgained the Vikings 474-305 despite the time of possession disparity.

The victory moves Dutch Fork a win away from clinching the Region 5-5A title and two wins away from the first unbeaten regular season in school history.

“We want to prove we’re the best,” Dutch Fork quarterback Reese Nichols said.

In driver’s seat

Fairfield Central, Newberry and Batesburg-Leesville are in control to win their respective regions.

Fairfield Central can win the Region 4-3A title with a win next week over Indian Land and in the season finale against Camden.

Newberry can clinch the Region 3-3A title Friday with a win over Mid-Carolina. The Bulldogs are tied with Woodruff but hold the tiebreaker over the Wolverines because of the 28-6 win on Sept. 30.

B-L controls its destiny in the Region 5-2A race if it wins the next two weeks over Calhoun County and Barnwell, which was upset Friday against Bamberg-Ehrhardt.

Two-QB system working for Chapin

For the second straight week, Chapin used a two-quarterback system on its way to a victory.

Both Cooper Bemis and Trad Beatty saw time at QB, and Bemis threw for 178 yards and hit Xavion Gordon for the game-winning TD with less than two minutes left in the win over Orangeburg-Wilkinson.

Chapin can clinch the Region 5-4A title in two weeks against A.C. Flora at Spirit Communications Park.

Region title still a possibility for Ridge View

Ridge View still has its eyes set on winning the Region 4-3A championship.

The Blazers need to win against Lancaster and York the next two weeks and hope York knocks off South Pointe to win region title. Regardless, if Ridge View wins out it would host a first-round playoff game.

North-South rosters out this week

Rosters for the Touchstone Energy North-South football game will be announced Monday.

The game will be played Dec. 10 at Myrtle Beach’s Doug Shaw Stadium. Last year, 17 players from the Midlands were selected. The South team will be coached by Irmo’s Reggie Kennedy and the North by Camden’s Jimmy Neal.

Top performers

Jordyn Adams, Blythewood – Junior quarterback threw for 326 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for score in win over Blythewood.

Bryce Fields, Gray Collegiate – Senior threw for 305 yards, four touchdowns and rushed for a TD in win over Eau Claire.

Corbett Glick, Hammond – Midlands’ leading passer was 20-of-26 for 285 yards and two TDs in win over Pinewood Prep.

Kedar Jennings, Fairfield Central – Had 4 1/2 sacks in win over Chester.

Reese Nichols, Dutch Fork – Quarterback rushed for 234 yards, two touchdowns and threw for 75 in comeback win over Spring Valley.

Anthony Salters, Dreher – Accounted for four TDs in win over Aiken on Thursday.

Jeffrey Tharpe, Irmo – Senior had four TDs in win over River Bluff.

Ones to watch

A look at next week’s top matchups in the Midlands:

Calhoun County at Batesburg-Leesville – Matchup of ranked teams, and B-L looks to stay on top of region race.

Chapin at Airport – Interesting non-region matchup late in season.

Dreher at A.C. Flora – A Flora victory would set up winner-take-all for region title the following week against Chapin.

Irmo at Dutch Fork – Silver Foxes clinch region title with victory.

Spring Valley at Blythewood – Blythewood can clinch second place in Region 5-5A and home playoff game with victory.

Strom Thurmond at Brookland-Cayce – B-C can win region title with wins over Strom Thurmond and Gilbert to finish out season.

White Knoll at Lexington – White Knoll needs win to keep pace for final playoff spot in Region 5-5A.