BEHS takes down BHS in Lower State finals
Although it was only a 3-0 lead at the time, Barnwell High had all the momentum early in the second quarter and seemed poised to end its drought Friday night against Bamberg-Ehrhardt.
Only it didn’t happen.
The result - a 23-3 loss to Bamberg-Ehrhardt High that was especially tough this time around as it ended Barnwell High’s season for the second year in a row in the Lower State Finals.
In some ways the game resembled the first meeting between the teams that was played at W.W. Carter Field in which the Red Raiders won 21-0.
In that game the Warhorses’ offense sputtered, finishing with a season-low 107 yards.
Again on Friday night, the Warhorses offense had their problems moving the ball. The Warhorses managed just 66 net yards rushing with most of it coming on a nine-play, 68-yard drive in the second quarter.
The loss ends Barnwell High’s season at 12-2 overall and 3-1 in the playoffs.
Barnwell High coach Dwayne Garrick said the team played hard, but came up short against a good Bamberg team.
“This is definitely not the way we wanted to end the season,” Garrick said. “Bamberg is very good defensively and tonight we had a tough time blocking them up front. Offensively we didn’t sustain drives and it’s hard to win when you don’t put points on the scoreboard.”
The Warhorses took a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter but, after that, it was all Red Raiders who scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half to seize the momentum.
“We blocked them at the start of the game, but for the most part we had trouble running the football,” Garrick said. “When you can’t run the ball, it’s hard to try and establish the play action and get things going.”
A Warhorse defense led by Deshawn Watson, Griffin Corley, Cole Kearse, Jackson Carter, Ernest Smith, Julius Arnold and Evi Brown held the Red Raiders to a first down and 24 yards on their first three drives.
However, in the second quarter after a short Warhorse punt, the Red Raiders began to move offensively.
On the first play from their 21-yard line, quarterback TJ Williams hooked up with Reece Zeigler, who raced through the Warhorse secondary for a 47-yard catch and run.
Three plays later, Williams went to the air again and this time he found Dahlil Wilkins all alone in the end zone for a 13-yard scoring reception. Hunter Bridges kicked the point after for a 7-3 lead with 4:49 left in the first half.
From there, the Red Raiders gradually took control. It started with the defense on the ensuing possession. A Red Raider unit fueled by Savion Butler, Nick Hughes, Nicolas Hughes and Kesean Brown held the Warhorses to six yards on three plays to force a punt.
After getting the ball back with 1:29 left in the first half, the Red Raider offense went back to work.
The team picked up a crucial first down on a a 12-yard gain by James Gainyard on third and eight. Two plays later, Williams hooked up with Blaze Bunch on a 53-yard touchdown pass. Bridges added the point after to extend the advantage to 14-3 at halftime.
“I thought our defense played well except for a few plays in the first half. Giving up the late touchdown wasn’t a back-breaker, but it certainly hurt,” Garrick said.
In the second half, the Red Raiders’ defense continued to make its presence felt. A punt by Blaze Bunch pinned the Warhorses inside their 10-yard line.
On first down, Brandon Harvey tried to run off tackle, but was met by Nick Hughes and Desmond Porter for a two-yard loss.
On the next play, quarterback Pete Elmore tried to pass from his endzone, but he was flagged for intentional grounding for attempting a pass in the pocket without a receiver in the area.
The Red Raiders were awarded a safety on the play to extend their lead to 16-3 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
After the safety, the Warhorse tried to answer back on the ensuing possession. Lee ripped off a nine-yard run on second and six, but the play was nullified because of a holding call. The drive ended with the Warhorses punting.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Warhorses’ misfortunes continued. After forcing a three-and-out, the team seemingly had a chance to get back in the game after Griffin Corley came free and blocked a punt at the Red Raider 22-yard line.
The Warhorses failed to capitalize on the opportunity, allowing Deszman Porter of the Red Raiders to scoop up the loose ball and race 24 yards for a first down.
“That was a big play after the blocked punt. If we could have picked up the ball and scored it would have been a one-score game. Instead, they advanced the ball and got a first down,” Garrick said.
Trailing by two scores late in the fourth quarter, the Warhorses had no choice but to pass. Elmore stared a drive with a couple of completions, but it ended moments later with an interception by Ja’Darius Wheeler at midfield.
The Red Raiders were able to convert the turnover into points. Javalas Folk capped an 11-play march and a four-yard run with 1:05 remaining in the game.
“Like I said, it’s disappointing, but we’ll be back. We had a great group of seniors who will be truly missed. They are a big reason why we’ve competed in the Lower State Finals for the second year in a row,” Garrick said.
For the game, Bamberg-Ehrhardt High was highlighted on offense by TJ Williams with 121 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Barnwell High was led by Lee with 62 yards on 15 carries.