Big play­off wins for Rock Hill, oth­ers on Fri­day

The Herald (Rock Hill) - - Front Page - BY BRET MCCORMICK bm­c­cormick@her­al­don­line.com

An in­ces­sant haze cast a dreamy ef­fect over the Rock Hill-Lau­rens play­off foot­ball game Fri­day night at Dis­trict Three Sta­dium.

What hap­pened on the ar­ti­fi­cial turf was no dream, but very real.

Rock Hill won a play­off foot­ball game for the first time since 2008, beat­ing the Raiders 51-30 and pro­long­ing a sea­son that’s re­vived the best mem­o­ries of long­time Bearcat fans.

Was there any de­fense in this game? Cer­tainly not in the first half. When the fog set­tled at half­time, the two sides com­bined for 60 points, split evenly 30-30.

Lau­rens led 9-0 af­ter a snap sailed over the Rock Hill punter’s head and was kicked out of the end zone (safety) and a slick one-handed Jack­son Mahon TD catch.

Rock Hill scored the next nine, Narii Gaither tak­ing a des­per­a­tion dump-off 67 yards down the left side­line for a touch­down, be­fore Lau­rens fum­bled an op­tion pitch out of the side of its end zone to make it 9 all.

Nei­ther team led by more than a touch­down

the rest of the way, and each took a turn in front.

The Bearcats scored last to tie it at 30, Cam Walker get­ting open in acres of mid­field space then out­run­ning the chas­ing Raiders for a 70-yard catc­hand-run touch­down. Turn­ing point Lau­rens drove down the field with me­thod­i­cal ease early in the se­cond half, but the Raiders spun out largely be­cause of a cut block penalty. Chris Liner’s team was flagged four times for cut block­ing, and each one seemed to mor­tally hurt a Raiders’ of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion.

“We felt like we could move the ball on them and in this style of­fense,” said Liner, “it’s hard when you get be­hind be­cause then they can just pin their ears back and come. We had a cou­ple of re­ally bad penal­ties that hurt us.” Crit­i­cal

Rock Hill’s half­time shift in de­fen­sive men­tal­ity won the game. Pittman said there wasn’t any huge shift in scheme.

“De­fense goes in at half­time and talks over some things and de­cides they’ve got to play some big boy foot­ball and put their hands on some peo­ple’s faces,” he said. “There wasn’t a great speech, it was just ‘hey man, do your job.’”

On deck

Rock Hill will face Gaffney in next week’s 5A se­cond round, at Dis­trict Three Sta­dium.

“We’re gonna take on Gaffney in the Rock!” said Bearcats safety Nick Ervin, rel­ish­ing the thought. “I’m ready for that game.” Box score

TRACY KIMBALL tkim­ball@her­al­don­line.com

Lau­rens’ Zy Todd car­ries the ball around Rock Hill’s Nick Ervin (23).

T. KIMBALL tkim­ball@her­al­don­line.com

Rock Hill's Hayden Jack­son car­ries the ball.

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