By Drake Horton
The deeper a team goes into the playoffs, the harder the competition is supposed to get.
For the Hartsville Red Foxes football team, nothing is looking too difficult right now.
Heading into the game against the North Augusta Yellow Jackets, the Red Foxes were an impressive 11-0, averaging 44 points a game and giving up only 13 points a game.
After Friday night’s 35-0 win over the Yellow Jackets, those numbers are only going to get better as Hartsville improves to 12-0 and advances to its third straight 4A lower-state championship and its fifth lower-state championship overall in seven years with two coming in 3A back in 2012 and 2015.
Once again Tiyon Evans, Hartsville’s starting quarterback, showed off his talent, scoring four of the five Red Fox touchdowns.
Evans got the scoring started in the first quarter, turning a blocked punt that was recovered on the North Augusta one-yard line into a one-yard touchdown run.
Up by a touchdown, Evans’ second score was a little more impressive.
With the ball sitting on the Yellow Jackets’ 28-yard line, Evans capped off an eight-play drive that started on the Hartsville 17-yard line with a 28-yard touchdown run.
Up 15-0 at the half, the Red Foxes kept the momentum running in the third and fourth quarter. Evans added two more scores, a 38-yard and 11-yard touchdown run while Collins Bishop capped the scoring off in the fourth quarter with a very impressive 40-yard touchdown run with 4:58 left in the game.
But this game was just as much about the defense as it was the offense. Hartsville forced seven punts, sacked the Yellow Jackets’ quarterback three times, forced two turnovers on downs and even recovered one fumble on a bad snap.
Heading into the game, North Augusta had scored 49 points in each of its two playoff games, but the Yellow Jackets offensive firepower was nowhere to be found as the Red Foxes front seven raised havoc, smothering quarterback Tanner White for the entire game.
Hartsville’s special teams even made its presence known in the game blocking a punt in the first quarter that set up the first touchdown of the game, hitting four of five extra point attempts and successfully running in a two-point conversion attempt the second quarter.
“I’m just happy for our kids,” Hartsville head coach Jeff Calabrese said after the game.
“They put a lot into this game; North Augusta is a really good opponent. We came out and we did a great job tonight, played really hard, minimized some mistakes and I think we are trying to fix that. We are going to enjoy it tonight and work on next week, next week.”
As the Red Foxes put this win behind them they will be preparing for a very familiar foe this Friday as the Myrtle Beach Seahawks come back to town for the second time this season.
Hartsville defeated the Seahawks, also a member of Region Six, 70-34 in the final regular season game of the season to clinch the region championship.