Warhorses survive Red Devils again

  • Warhorse powerback Mikal Lee, #3, was more than a handful for the Red Devils defenders. Lee finished with 143 yards rushing.

Barnwell High head coach Dwayne Garrick didn’t necessarily have a look of satisfaction on his face following Friday’s 23-20 win over Wade Hampton High.

It was more of a look of relief. Or more accurately, it was the look of a coach whose team for the third year in a row pulled out a nail-bitter against Wade Hampton.

The biggest question was, though, did the Warhorses need the dramatic finish? There were several times during the game when the Warhorses had an opportunity to put the Red Devils away, but failed to execute. They had a touchdown pass called back due to a penalty and several potential scoring drives that ended due to penalties and dropped passes.

“We got the win tonight, but it wasn’t pretty,” Garrick said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot all night with mistakes and penalties. We have to find a way to clean up our play, especially on the offensive side of the ball.”

A Warhorse defense that has been stellar through the first three games came through with another superb performance against the Red Devils.

In all, the unit collected six sacks, nine tackles for losses and scored its second touchdown in two weeks.

“Defensively, we continued to play well. We have up a few big runs, but overall it was a good defensive outing,” Garrick said.

Despite all the impressive numbers, the Warhorse defense was again good when they had to be against the Red Devils.

Trailing 23-20 with 4:51 remaining to play, the Red Devils had the ball on their 25 yard-line with the hopes of getting into field goal range to tie the game.

After surrendering a first down, the Warhorse defense paced by Michael Guty, Griffin Corley, Jackson Carter, Julius Arnold, Deshaun Watson, Cole Kearse and Ryan Harper shut the door on the Red Devils’ opportunity.

It started with Griffin Corley and Ryan Harper stopping Miles Murdaugh for no gain on first down. On second down, Deshaun Watson and Julius Arnold combined on a sack. That followed with another sack. This time, Earnest Smith got pressure from the outside and grounded the Red Devils’ quarterback.

“The guys up front got great penetration and were able to get in for a couple of crucial sacks. That defensive series pretty much secured the game for us,” Garrick said.

Offensively, the No 2. ranked Warhorses had on problems on their opening drive. After taking the opening kickoff, the Warhorses drove 68 yards in nine plays for a score. Mikal Lee completed the nearly six-minute march with a five-yard run. Hunter Webb kicked the extra points.

After a quick three-and-out by the Red Devils, the Warhorses’ offense was on the move gain. A first-down run by Brandon Harvey netted 14-yards. After a seven-yard run by Lee, Lionel Mason scampered for six more yard to move the first down sticks.

Moments later, however, the promising drive bogged down due to penalties and the team was forced to punt.

After gaining just three yards on their first possession, the Red Devils’ offense heated up on their second try. Tyshawn Grant hauled in a 55-yard reception to get the ball inside the Warhorses’ 20-yard line. Two plays later, Miles Murdaugh capped the five-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. The point after failed.

Early in the second quarter, the Red Devils’ offense attempted the keep the momentum going from last last drive. This time, however, the Warhorses defense was up to the challenge. On the play, Michael Guty stripped the Red Devils’ quarterback of the ball and Griffin Corley made the recovery in the end zone for a score. After the missed point after the Warhorses lead 13-7 with 10:22 left in the first half.

The score remained that way until late in the first half. With 3:09 left in the half, the Red Devils surged ahead on a 19-yard touchdown reception by Murdaugh. The Red Devils added the two-point conversion.

Trailing 14-13 with 2:03 left in the first half, the Warhorses answered back. Quarterback Pete Elmore got his team down field in a hurry with first down completions to Julius Arnold and Ena Bynum. Moments later, the Warhorses seemingly hit pay dirt scoring strike from Elmore to Reggie Roberts. The score, however, was called back because of a penalty.

The team then had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Webb for a 16-14 halftime lead.

“Offensively, we started out strong with our wishbone. From there, we kept making mistake after mistake,” Garrick said.

After struggling for most of the first half, the Warhorses offense seemingly found rhythm on their first possession of the second half.

Behind the running of Brandon Harvey and Mikal Lee, the Warhorses drove 59-yards for a touchdown. Harvey, who had 32 yards rushing on the drive capped the possession with a 10-yard run. Webb added the kick.

Trailing 23-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Red Devils stormed back with a seven-play, 74-yard drive to narrow the score. Murdaugh scored on a three-yard run to narrow the lead at 23-20 with 10:39 left to play.

After a Warhorse punt, the Red Devils got the ball back with under five minutes let to play. The Red Devils’ offense went nowhere on a possession that ended with two sacks.

For the game, Mikal Lee led the Warhorse offense with 143 yards rushing. Brandon Harvey had 101 yards. Lionel Mason added 35 yards.

Defensively, Deshaun Watson and Julius Arnold led the unit with seven tackles and a sack each. Others shining on the unit included Earnest Smith with six tackles and a sack. Jackson Carter had six tackles. Cole Kearse and Ryan Harper each had four tackles. Harper added a sack.