Warhorses tackle Bears to advance to finals

  • Warhorses Earl Bostic, left, and Derin Hammon, right, corral Bears tailback Marcus Smith.

The Barnwell High Warhorses will play for the Class AA Lower State Finals.

The Warhorses punched their ticket Friday night with a 17-6 road win over Carvers Bay High.

It was a game where Barnwell High’s offense wasn’t that impressive, yet it hardly mattered because its defense was so dominating.

For the fifth straight game, Barnwell High’s defense proved impenetrable as it held its opponents to just one trip into the endzone.

A Carvers Bay High team that averaged 36 points in two playoffs wins just happened to be the Warhorses’ lastest victim.

For the Warhorses, Jackson Carter and Kamron Myrick each recorded 10 tackles to fuel a swarming unit that forced five turnovers, recorded four sacks and denied the Bears on 10 of 13 third down conversions.

The Bears’ second half possessions resulted in a fumble, interception, fumble and a sack to end their fourth drive.

Others playing a key role in the unit’s performance were Austin Renew, Earl Bostic Jr., Julius Arnold, Dallyon Creech and Reggie Roberts.

Renew had his best game of the season with seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Bostic, who also notched seven tackles, added a sack and a forced fumble. Arnold led the team with five quarterback pressures and two sacks. Creech and Roberts highlighted the secondary with an interception apiece.

“Our defense continues to play a big part in our success as a team. Tonight, we had another superb game against a good Carvers Bay team. We had players flying around and making plays all over the field,” Warhorse head coach Dwayne Garrick said.

Barnwell High will need that kind of defensive effort Friday night as it attempts to slow down a Batesburg-Leesville team that has averaged 46.1 points in the playoffs.

“Defensively, we have to continue to do the things that have been working for us the last month. Those include controlling the line of scrimmage, limiting big plays and forcing turnovers,” Garrick said.

Offensively, it wasn’t one of the Warhorses’ best performances. Although the team managed two touchdowns and a field goal, the team was plagued with a lack of consistency and three second-half turnovers.

“We made some mistakes and came up a little short tonight offensively,” Garrick said. “We certainly didn’t play our best but, when you get to this point, a win is a win.”

In the game, the Warhorses got on the scoreboard first. Late in the opening quarter, Keyshawn Jenkins completed an eight-play, 64 -yard march with a nifty 17-yard run. Nathan Toole added the kick.

Down 7-0, the Bears clawed back early in the second quarter. Quarterback Nathan Martin heaved a pass to DiJon Goss, who snagged the ball between two defenders to complete a 17-yard scoring pass.

Leading by 6 late in the second quarter, the Warhorses answered on the scoreboard right before the half. Toole salvaged a 34-yard drive with a 32-yard field goal.

The Warhorses’ lone score in the second half was set up by a fumble recovery by Jackson Carter at the Bears’ four yard-line. Mikal Lee converted the turnover into a three-yard touchdown run.

For the game, Mikal Lee led the offense with 99 yards rushing. Keyshawn Jenkins had 59 yards. Brandon Harvey rushed for 52 yards. Anton Buxton finished with 42 yards while Ryan Harper added 23 yards.

With the win, Barnwell High moves to 12-1 overall. In a rematch, Barnwell will play Batesburg-Leesville at home Friday for the lower state crown.

Barnwell defeated Batesburg-Leesville 20-7 in the regular season finale.

“After playing back to back games on the road, we’re glad to be back home with our crowd behind us,” Garrick said.

“We are very familiar with Batesburg-Leesville. They have an explosive football team, so it definitely will be another challenge for us.”