Friday, October 20, 2017
River Bluff High School
With a possible playoff spot on the line and a big night of senior recognitions, River Bluff was hoping to end the year on a winning note. The game was broadcast by WACH Fox 57 and was one of their featured Friday Night Rivals games this season, sponsored by Sonic Drive-in. Unfortunately, mistakes and a stingy Irmo defense held the Gators to a low of 10 points and resulted in a loss at the hands of the Yellowjackets.
Much of the game proved a defensive battle, not all that unusual for the Gators this season. But, the Gators 1-2 punch of tailbacks Jalen Weston and Antonio Gantt found it nearly impossible to gain much yardage up the middle, while the Jackets swarmed to the ball, wherever it might be, for much of the night. With their bread-and-butter option offense stifled, River Bluff was unable to put many points on the board. The Gator defense played admirably, as they have for much of the year. But great field position for Irmo, some untimely penalties, and turnovers plagued River Bluff, making the task too difficult to overcome.
While the absence of those seniors who were honored before the game will certainly be felt next year, the future is bright for this football program. Building off of a persistent and disciplined work ethic, the Gators are proving to be a gritty, determined bunch. As first-year head coach Coach Blair Hardin’s system starts to take hold, the Gators should be poised to make some serious noise in its region for upcoming seasons.
(image courtesy of GoFlashWin.com)
The first quarter set the stage for what would be a defensive battle for much of the evening. Drives for both teams ended in punts throughout the quarter. Neither team had scored when the 1st quarter came to an end.
At the start of the 2nd, an Irmo punt hit the leg of a River Bluff player who was sprinting back downfield to block for the Gator returner. Irmo pounced on the ball and retained possession on the River Bluff 45 yard line. The drive resulted in a Yellowjacket field goal by Angel Camarena from 30 yards out.
On their next possession, the Gators moved the ball to midfield but fumbled a handoff on a 3rd and 1 play, giving the ball right back to Irmo with a short field again. On the very next play, Yellowjacket QB John Ragin connected with Kendrell Flowers for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Camarena’s PAT was good, giving Irmo a 10-0 lead.
River Bluff was finally able to move the ball significantly on their next drive. They had to settle for a kick, however, which Coltin Hallman booted through the uprights from 30 yards out to get the Gators on the board. At the end of the first half, River Bluff trailed Irmo 3-10.
Irmo cranked up the second half by returning the opening kickoff 60 yards – all the way down to the River Bluff 34 yard line. Soon thereafter, Ragin connected once again – this time with Raekwon Heath – on a 20-yard touchdown strike. Camerana’s extra point attempt was true, giving the Yellowjackets a 17-3 lead.
As the 3rd quarter came to a close, the Gators had impressively marched all the way down to Irmo’s 9 yard line. This seemed to be setting up for an interesting 4th.
On a 4th-and-1 play from the Irmo 9, Jalen Weston strode into the end zone to put the Gators within seven points of Irmo.
After a failed onside kick attempt by the Gators, Irmo took over on their own 42 yard line. The River Bluff defense proved too much and Irmo punted the ball to River Bluff’s 21 yard line. The Gators suffered another turnover after they took over possession when a receiver fell down prior to the ball reaching him and Irmo’s defensive back was able to intercept the pass.
A few plays later, the Yellowjackets’ Jason Legette ran the ball in for the score from 43 yards out. Camarena’s kick was good. The Jackets were up 24-10 with nearly 10 minutes remaining in the game.
River Bluff took over and moved the ball well. Again, though, a pass to the endzone was picked off and Irmo was given a possible chance to seal the victory. Irmo held onto the ball for over 8 minutes to close out the game, taking a knee in victory formation at the River Bluff 3-yard line as time expired.
Final score – Irmo – 24, RB – 10