Boys Varsity Football·
Gator Football Loses Heartbreaker to White Knoll 14-10
Friday, October 6, 2017
White Knoll High School
River Bluff High School
On a night filled with pageantry and celebrations in The Swamp, the River Bluff Gators football team found themselves to be their toughest opponent on the evening. Taking advantage of some key mistakes, White Knoll was able to spoil a fun-filled Welcome Home game for the Gators.
Fans witnessed the crowning of Nina Gasparik as Welcome Home queen, recognition of the 2017 Baseball State Runner-ups and the first River Bluff Pop Warner football and cheerleader teams, a Litter Free Game event from Palmetto Pride, a Marrowthon from Be The Match, and a Tie Dye Spirit game for students and fans. They also witnessed a gallant effort by a scrappy River Bluff team who dominated most of the stats categories but couldn’t overcome some big mishaps to win the night.
As they have for much of the season, the Gator defense played very well, holding the visiting Timberwolves scoreless until late in the 3rd quarter. They got big stops when they had to for most of the game.
The offense was productive as well, totaling 271yards, 250 of which were on the ground. Antonio Gantt led all rushers with 149 yards on 26 carries and Braden Walker added 94 yards on 17 carries.
A muffed punt reception, which gave White Knoll the ball after being pinned deep within their territory and an illegal shift that negated an important 4th and 1 conversion near the White Knoll 10 yard line with time running out proved too much for the Gators to overcome.
The Gators will be back in action next Friday for a special night at Spirit Communications Park, home of the Fireflies. They will take on a strong Spring Valley team. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM.
Come on out for a fun-filled night in Columbia at a special venue for high school football and support your Gators as they try to bounce back and build on the many positives from tonight’s game.
River Bluff took the opening kick and was unable to move the ball, going 3 downs and a punt. Braden Walker’s punt sailed 50 yards, though, backing White Knoll up to their own 28. While the Timberwolves had more success moving the ball, they stalled as well and punted it back to the Gators who took it over on their own 11.
River Bluff ended up punting again on their next possession, but another boomer from Walker took the ball to the White Knoll 15. The 51-yard punt backed the Timberwolves up deep into their own territory, but they were again able to move the ball before being stopped near midfield. As the 1st quarter ended, the Gators found themselves in another defensive battle – the score was knotted at 0.
White Knoll fumbled the snap on a 4th down punt, which gave the Gators the ball in good shape on the Timberwolf 38. River Bluff took advantage of the field position and drove the ball down to the 1 yard line on the legs of Braden Walker and Antonio Gantt. Walker carried it in from the 1 for the first score of the game. Coltin Hallman’s kick was good to make the score 7-0 Gators.
White Knoll returned the ensuing kickoff to their 30, but was unable to mount a successful drive. A short punt gave the ball back to the Gators on their own 31. A nice drive was marred by a couple of penalties and River Bluff had to settle for a field goal attempt as time ran out in the half. The try was wide left and the score stood 7-0 at the half.
White Knoll encountered a stiff swarming Gator defense on their first possession of the second half and had to punt the ball away. River Bluff took over on their own 24 and drove the field, but again hurt themselves with penalties. This time Hallman’s field goal attempt was good from 35, increasing the Gators lead by 3. The score was 10-0 as the Gator kickoff unit took the field.
The Timberwolves took over from their own 26 and on the first play from scrimmage White Knoll QB Aveon Smith hooked up with Keon Clary for a 74 yard touchdown pass. Omar Omerbasic tacked on the extra point to bring the score to 10-7.
River Bluff could not mount a drive on their ensuing possession and punted to the White Knoll 32.
The Timberwolves had the ball as the 3rd quarter came to a close.
The Gator defense played inspired football, backing up White Knoll deep inside their own territory, forcing a 4th-and-38 punt from within their own end zone. Gantt fumbled the fair catch on the punt around midfield and the Timberwolves recovered, giving them the ball and the momentum.
White Knoll proceeded to convert some big 3rd down plays and found the end zone on a run by Albert Hope. Omerbasic’s kick was good and White Knoll took the lead for the first time 14-10.
A personal foul against the Timberwolves on the touchdown run, though, forced a kickoff from the 25, which sailed out of bounds. The penalty gave River Bluff the ball on the 50 yard line with less than 5 minutes to play in the game. Walker and Gantt traded runs as the Gators drove down to the 13 yard line. Walker seemed to have converted a key 4th and 1 play but River Bluff was called for another illegal shift, one of many on the evening, which backed the ball up to the 18 and gave them a much more difficult 4th and 6. Walker’s run came up short and the Timberwolves took over on downs on their own 15 with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the game.
On a 3rd-and-1, White Knoll gained a first down and sealed the victory. A couple of kneel-downs ran out the clock and White Knoll pulled out the victory over the Gators 14-10.