BLACKSBURG, SC – Blacksburg used a 28 point second half to cruise to a 42-21 victory over the Ninety Six Wildcats in the second round of the 2A playoffs on Friday night in Blacksburg.
The Wildcat offense sputtered in the second half, after dominating the first half of play, resulting in the 21 point loss. The Ninety Six offense controlled the ball and the clock in the first half, but big plays by Blacksburg resulted in a tie at the half. The Wildcats were unable to continue that dominance in the second half, and Blacksburg was able to pull away.
After the Wildcat defense forced a punt on Blacksburg’s first possession of the game, the Wildcat offense grinded out a 14 play drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock. However, the drive would stall, and an interception on a fourth down play gave Blacksburg the ball near midfield after the return.
Blacksburg needed just five plays to score first as Deandre Surratt scored from ten yards out to give Blacksburg a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point.
The Wildcats responded with another long drive, this time getting into the end zone. Ninety Six covered 72 yards in 12 plays, highlighted by a 35 yard pass from Hunter Watson to Ryan Booker on the first play of the drive. Christian Saxon scored from two yards out to tie the score. Grant Dickey’s extra point gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead with 9:12 left in the first half.
The Wildcats got the ball back after a punt and went to work again. This time the Wildcats needed just seven plays to cover 57 yards. JaQuon Louden scored on a four yard run with 4:49 left in the half. Dickey’s PAT gave the Wildcats a 14-6 lead.
Blacksburg’s offense would then score the next 28 points to take control of the contest. A pair of 31 yard runs by quarterback Treyvon Parker sparked a four play 70 yard drive in just over a minute to cut the lead to 14-12. Surratt added a two point conversion to even the score at 14-14.
The Wildcat offense was able to drive the ball again before the half. The Wildcats drove to the Blacksburg seven yard line with 20 seconds remaining in the half, but a holding penalty wiped out a Louden touchdown run. The Wildcats were forced to attempt a 34 yard field goal, but Dickey’s attempt was wide left, and the score remained tied at the half.
The Wildcats domination of the first half stats included 45 plays run by the offense to just 16 plays for Blacksburg. The Wildcats had 248 yards of offense to just 126 yards for Blacksburg, but the score would be the most important stat.
The Wildcats received the second half kickoff, but were unable to move the ball for the first time. Blacksburg made the Wildcats pay as they went 80 yards in just six plays, culminating in a 62 yard pass from Parker to Terrell Allen. The PAT gave Blacksburg the lead for good at 21-14.
The Wildcats continued to struggle moving the ball in the second half with consecutive punts sandwiched around a Blacksburg interception. Blacksburg would take a two possession lead late in the third quarter with another quick drive. A six play, 71 yard drive took just 2:49 off the clock. Parker’s 35 yard run found the end zone, but another missed extra point kept the Wildcats in the game at 27-14.
A pair of dead ball penalties on Blacksburg on the ensuing kickoff gave the Wildcats great field position at the Blacksburg 32 yard line, but three runs and an incomplete pass later turned the ball back over the Blacksburg.
Two minutes later, Blacksburg scored on a 13 yard pass from Parker to Nick Hames. Another two-point conversion gave Blacksburg an insurmountable 35-14 lead.
Ninety Six continued to fight, driving deep into Blacksburg territory on its next possession, but the nine play drive stalled. Blacksburg took over on downs at their own 35 yard line.
Three plays later a bad snap by Blacksburg was recovered by the Wildcats at the Blacksburg 11 yard line, giving the Wildcats new life. Saxon scored his second touchdown of the night on the third play to cut into the Blacksburg advantage. Dickey’s PAT cut the lead to 35-21 with 3:59 left in the contest.
The Wildcats tried an onside kick, but were unsuccessful. Blacksburg took over at the Wildcat 45 yard line, and a 19 yard run by Surratt ended the Wildcat hopes of victory.
The Wildcats (5-7) were lead by Christian Saxon’s 76 yards rushing on 17 carries. Saxon scored twice for the Wildcats. JaQuon Louden added 67 yards on 18 attempts with one score.
Hunter Watson completed 13 of 29 pass attempts for 95 yards on the night. Ryan Booker was Watson’s favorite target, catching four passes for 49 yards.
“I am extremely proud of our kids and coaches,” said Coach Chris Liner. “We fought through so much adversity this year. To come through and play the way we did down the stretch is a testament to the kids and coaches at Ninety Six High School.”