Na­tion Ford ad­vances to se­cond round

The Herald (Rock Hill) - - High School Football - BY MAC BANKS Spe­cial to The Her­ald

A heavy fog and wet field didn’t slow run­ning back Nathan Ma­haf­fey and the Na­tion Ford Fal­cons as they got a 14-5 win over the Blythewood Ben­gals to open the 5A state play­offs. It was their first 5A play­off win in foot­ball.

For two weeks, Na­tion Ford (6-5) has been prep­ping for their play­off opener against the Ben­gals but couldn’t plan for the poor field con­di­tions brought on by the weather. The Fal­cons were look­ing for their first play­off win since 2015. Blythewood (6-4) got a play­off win two sea­sons ago in 2016, but missed the play­offs last sea­son. The Ben- gals came into the game led by run­ning back Jay­lon Boyd with nearly 800 yards on the ground and 12 touch­downs.

Na­tion Ford sopho­more Gabe Huitt got the start at quar­ter­back af­ter reg­u­lar starter Wayde Prince was in­jured against Chapin in the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nal. The Fal­cons leaned heav­ily on their run pack­ages with Ma­haf­fey lead­ing the way. The ju­nior topped 200 yards rush­ing for the third time this sea­son.

A steady mist and fog en­gulfed the sta­dium at Blythewood High for kick­off. Both teams strug­gled to move the ball in wet con­di­tions in the early go­ing.

To­ward the end of the first quar­ter, Blythewood put to­gether a lengthy drive, with ev­ery play com­ing on the ground, mov­ing to the Fal­cons 11-yard line and set up a 28-yard field goal to put the Ben­gals on the board.

As much as Na­tion Ford strug­gled early on, all it needed was one big play to turn things around as Ma­haf­fey broke through the line of scrim­mage mid­way through the se­cond quar­ter and sprinted into the end zone from 80-yards out to put the Fal­cons up 7-3 with about five min­utes left in the half.

Blythewood got a safety to open the se­cond half, which helped pull the hosts within one score of the Fal­cons.

Turn­ing point

Up by just two and start­ing at the 4-yard line, Na­tion Ford moved the ball to the 18-yard line. A 15-yard pass in­ter­fer­ence call gave Na­tion Ford new life, and Ma­haf­fey again put the team on his back and rushed the ball in from 67-yards out to put the Fal­cons up 14-5 with about 10 min­utes left in the game.

“That was ba­si­cally the ball game,” said Na­tion Ford head coach Michael Allen. “Those two big runs by Nathan. He ex­pects to do things like that.” Crit­i­cal

Na­tion Ford strug­gled to move the ball through the air, which with the con­di­tions al­lowed the Ben­gals to key in on the Fal­cons’ run game. The Fal­cons didn’t pick up a first down un­til mid­way through the se­cond quar­ter. Weather con­di­tions didn’t help ei­ther team as both squads com­bined to fum­ble the ball six times in the first half.

Star con­trib­u­tors Ma­haf­fey rushed the ball for 215 yards on 23 car­ries for the Fal­cons and two touch­downs and for Blythewood, Boyd rushed the ball 20 times for 116 yards.

On deck

Up next for Na­tion Ford is Dor­man, who breezed through their first round game against Green­wood, win­ning 52-0. The Fal­cons will travel to Dor­man for the 7:30 p.m. se­cond round game.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.