Warhorses take down Blue Devils, 24-6

  • Barnwell Warhorse defenders Jackson Carter, #64, Julius Arnold, #86, and Brashuan Spann, #9, gang-tackle Fabian Bing of the Williston-Elko Blue Devils.

High school football teams typically show the most improvement between their second and third games.

The good news for the Barnwell High Warhorses and the Williston-Elko High Blue Devils is they’ve shown they have plenty of room for improvement.

The in-county rivals met Friday night in Williston in the season opener. Both teams showed early rust as they battled through offensive and defensive miscues.

In the end, however, it was Barnwell High that made the most of its opportunities to come away with a 24-6 win.

The game was a tussle for two and half quarters with Barnwell leading 10-6. The Warhorses then pulled away, scoring 14 points in a span of six minutes to secure victory.

“It was the first game of the season so it was a little sloppy at times,” Barnwell High coach Dwayne Garrick said. “We definitely made our share of mistakes, but we also made a few good plays. Overall, I think we played hard and tough against a good Williston-Elko team.”

“We played hard, but simply made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball tonight,” Williston-Elko High coach Derek Youngblood said. “We came up a little short on the scoreboard against a good Barnwell football team. Hopefully, we’ll learn from this experience and get better.”

The Blue Devils got off to a fast start after taking the opening kickoff. On the very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tyran Parker eluded pressure and flipped the ball to Keyshawn Toney, who ran through several tacklers for a 19-yard gain. From there, the Blue Devils had trouble moving the ball. A Warhorse front seven led by Julius Arnold, Jackson Carter, Earnest Smith and Michael Guty, stopped the Blue Devils at their 48-yard line on fourth and one.

After the exchange of possession, the Warhorses offense quickly took advantage of the good field position. Tailback Brandon Harvey found some running room on the right side and scampered for a 17-yard gain.

The Warhorses followed with another first down before the drive stalled on fourth down and nine at the Blue Devils’ 22-yard-line. That’s when placekicker Hunter Webb salvaged the march by nailing a 39-yard field goal.

Over their next two possessions, the Blue Devils moved the ball well between the 30 yard-line markers only to be stopped by the Warhorse defense on fourth down.

“We have to do a better job of finishing drives than we did tonight. We moved the ball well, but failed to execute when we needed to keep the drive alive,” Youngblood said.

With just a field goal to show for their efforts on their first three drives, it looked like the Warhorse offense finally found some traction midway in the second quarter.

On third down and eight from the Blue Devils’ 48-yard-line, quarterback Pete Elmore found Ena Bynum along the left sideline for a 34-yard completion.

Moments later, after a first down run by Mikal Lee, the Warhorses had the ball inside the Blue Devils’ five-yard-line and looked to be going in for a score.

The Blue Devils’ defense, however, spoiled their plans. On the play, Elmore had the ball jarred free by Evander Tyler and Da’quan Cuthbertson. Tyshawn Toney made the recovery for the Blue Devils to end the threat.

After squandering a scoring threat, the Warhorses came back late in the second quarter. Elmore redeemed himself by tossing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Ty Frazier on fourth and 11 with 45 seconds left in the half. Webb added the kick for a 10-0 halftime lead.

“That was a big slip-up on our part, allowing them to score on fourth down right before the half. We just lost track of their receiver and weren’t in position to make a play on the ball,” Youngblood said.

A Blue Devil offense that was unable to finish drives in the first half seemingly got new life after a long lightening delay early in the third quarter. On the drive, Toney snagged a 31-yard reception that got the team down to the one-yard line. One play later, the Blue Devils were on the scoreboard on a run by Cuthbertson. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the Warhorses were able to answer their scoring march.

The Warhorses went to the wishbone offense and the unit thrived with the tough running of Mikal Lee.

Lee, who ran for 31 yards on the drive, converted two third down conversions. Lee then finished off the seven-play, 68-yard march with a one-yard dive. Webb added the kick.

“That was a huge scoring drive for our team,” Garrick said. “We needed a big drive to stop their momentum and we got one right there.”

With 7:35 left in the game, Harvey gave the Warhorses some breathing room when he went 72 yards for a touchdown.

Down by three scores, the Blue Devils tried to answer with less than two minutes to play, but Marcus Robinson’s interception along the sideline ended the drive.

For the game, Harvey led the Warhorses in rushing with 105 yards. Lee added 55 yards. Elmore had 151 total yards with 103 passing.

Defensively for the Warhorses, Jackson Carter led with 14 tackles. Julius Arnold tallied 13 stops. Michael Guty and Griffin Corley each had eight tackles. Earnest Smith had a great game in his first varsity outing with eight tackles and two sacks.

Offensively for the Blue Devils, Toney led all receivers with 82 yards on seven catches. Parker had 98 yards passing and 63 rushing. Bing finished with 59 yards on the ground.

Defensively, the Blue Devils were led by Jasper Lott with eight tackles, including three for losses. Meddikis Priester and Evander Tyler and Kendel Brown each registered four tackles.