Lou Bezjak

Wild finishes mark Week 1 of Midlands high school football scene

The State staff writer Lewis Bezjak
The State staff writer Lewis Bezjak tdominick@thestate.com

The first full week of high school football didn’t disappoint across the Midlands.

Seven games were decided by four points or less, and four of them had dramatic finishes.

Here are some of the highlights:

Blythewood at Ridge View – There might not be a wilder finish to a Midlands game this season than the one at Richland District 2 Stadium. Ridge View ended a 12-game losing streak to the Bengals as Nick Lawyer hit a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the 23-21 victory.

Ridge View trailed 18-0 at halftime and 21-7 with 5:54 left before scoring the final 16 points.

Blazers quarterback Jalen Smith had a 46-yard touchdown pass to Tre High and then ran in 5-yard score to cut the lead to 21-20. Ridge View gambled and went for two-point conversion but was denied.

Blythewood recovered the onside kick but Dejuan Warren forced a fumble as the Bengals tried to kneel down and run out the clock. In 58 seconds, the Blazers went 33 yards in six plays and Lawyer, a sophomore, capped off the comeback with the winning field goal.

“We put ourselves in contention and that’s all you can ask for. And the kids never gave up,” Ridge View coach Perry Parks said. “It is a sign of a team that wanted it.”

Chapin at Mid-Carolina – Chapin scored 14 points in the final 2:28 to win The Battle of the Bell in what Chapin broadcaster Matt Barber dubbed as the “Prayer in Prosperity.”

Quarterback Cooper Bemis, who was inserted in the third quarter, had a 32-yard punt return for a touchdown with 2:38 left, and the Eagles recovered the onside kick. Xzavion Gordon had a game-winning touchdown a few plays later.

Brookland-Cayce at Airport – Bearcats scored the final 20 points over the last 9:36 for the 47-43 victory over the Eagles. The game featured 10 turnovers and more than 40 penalties called and lasted over three hours.

Lexington at A.C. Flora – Despite playing what coach Josh Stepp called “four quarters of bad football,” the Wildcats pulled out a 20-17 win over the Falcons on Thursday. Lexington marched 51 yards in 10 plays in the final 2:49, and Gunnar Kennedy’s 31-yard field goal with one second left was the difference.

Wardrobe change

After warming up in its usual home attire of purple jerseys and silver pants, Ridge View came out wearing all black uniforms and purple numbers against Blythewood.

Ridge View coach Perry Parks said the change was a surprise for the players and first time the Blazers wore all black uniforms.

Strong start

After winning just two games last season, Gilbert is off to a 2-0 start under first-year coach Chad Leaphart.

The Indians defeated Batesburg-Leesville 32-24 behind Catriez Cook’s 140 yards and two touchdowns. It was Gilbert’s first win over B-L since 2011 and just the fourth in 31 career meetings between the two teams.

More Wildcat coming?

Despite losing to Lexington, A.C. Flora might have found something running the Wildcat formation with Lane Botkin.

The senior rushed nine times for 109 yards, most coming in the second half , and two touchdowns. Falcons coach Reggie Shaw hinted they might use more of it in the future. A.C. Flora is off this week before playing Lugoff-Elgin on Sept. 9.

Northside begins with victory

Northside Christian won in its first 8-man varsity game with a 62-0 over Greenwood Christian School.

The victory was veteran coach Jerry Brown’s 261st of his career.

Penalty problems

Blythewood has racked up 312 yards in penalties in its first two games.

The Bengals were penalized 18 times for 197 yards Friday against Ridge View, including a 15-yard personal foul which moved the Blazers into field goal range in the game-winning drive.

Top performers

Corbett Glick (Hammond) – Heathwood Hall transfer was 14-of-14 for 302 yards and five touchdowns in the first half against Spartanburg Christian. Five TDs are most by Hammond player in the first half.

Devin Beckley (Camden) – Bulldogs’ senior passed for 251 yards and three TDs and also ran for a touchdown in win over North Central

Matthew Campbell (Dreher) – Quarterback tossed five touchdown passes in win over Columbia.

Bryce Thompson (Ben Lippen) – Virginia Tech commit racked up 272 all-purpose yards in win over Heathwood Hall.

TyQuandre Davis (Richland Northeast) – Tailback rushed for 194 yards and three TDs on just 12 carries in win over Swansea.

Ones to watch

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

Dutch Fork at Fort Dorchester – Might be the best game in the state next week. Defending Fort Dorchester, which features quarterback Dakereon Joyner, are ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, while the Silver Foxes are No. 3.

Blythewood at Fairfield Central – Griffins are 2-0 and get chance to make statement against 5A Bengals, who are coming off tough loss to Ridge View.

Chapin at Irmo – Two teams haven’t played since 2011. Eagles coming off wild win over Mid-Carolina and Yellow Jackets were impressive in beating JL Mann.

Hammond at Laurence Manning – Game begins tough two-week stretch for the Skyhawks, who have won 26 games in a row. Hammond has LMA (2-0) this week and Ben Lippen the following week.

Hartsville at Camden – Longest running rivalry in the state of South Carolina. Both teams are 2-0 and Red Foxes coming off 62-point performance against 5A South Florence.

Brookland-Cayce at Lexington – Bearcats are 2-0 and have chance to make statement with win over Wildcats, who haven’t looked sharp despite winning first two games.