Lamar Silver Foxes advance in the playoffs
By: Don Gearhart
The Baptist Hill Bobcats, sporting an 8-2 record, made the 2 ½ hour trip from Hollywood, SC in hopes of advancing in the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) 1A football championships. To win a game at Donald R. Poole stadium you need a little bit of luck in addition to avoiding the magic that happens in “Big Daddy’s House.” Luck was with the Bobcats as they scored two defensive touchdowns. Those were their only scores, however, and the “magic” happened as Lamar turned in a decisive defensive score of their own to prevail in a close scoring 16-12 game.
Baptist Hill started the game with a quick 6-yard pass completion but failed to move the sticks and settled for a punt that gave Lamar the ball for their first possession at their own 31-yard line. Eight plays later the drive stalled at the Bobcats 24-yard line. After an initial 14-yard pass completion, the Bobcats had to turn the ball back over to the Silver Foxes. When the punt only went about 10 yards, Lamar was in business at their own 45. Runs of 15 and 7 yards by Tavion Mcphail set up a Davion Martin 23-yard touchdown sprint with 3:39 left in the first quarter. The kick attempt for the extra point failed but the Silver Foxes had an early 6-0 lead. Baptist Hill was able to gain one first down before stalling again. This time, a booming 54-yard punt pinned the Silver Foxes at their own 1-yard line. On the first snap, the ball came loose and an alert Bobcats player fell on the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. The two point conversion failed and with 1:02 left in the quarter, the score was knotted at 6-6.
Lamar engineered an eleven play drive that stalled deep in Bobcats territory and set up a 37-yard field goal by Luke Windham with 8:45 to play in the half to make the score 9-6. From their own 32, Baptist Hill went backwards due to penalties and tackles for loss. Punting from their own 6, a shanked punt put the Silver Foxes in excellent field position at the Bobcats 30-yard line. Mcphail lost the ball on the first play from scrimmage and the Bobcats proceeded to run off nine plays to the Lamar 24 where a fourth down conversion failed to move the chains. This turned out to be the only significant drive that Baptist Hill would muster the entire game. After an 8-yard run by Mcphail, Tavion Dolford gained 10 yards on a quarterback keeper only to fumble at the end of the play. The Bobcats recovered the live ball and ran it in for their second defensive score of the game to make the score 12-9 in their favor with just 1:02 remaining in the half. When the kickoff went through the endzone for a touchback, the Silver Foxes took a knee and went to the locker room to regroup.
Lamar took the second half kickoff and made it to the Bobcats territory. They failed to gain the first down on a fourth-and-three and turned the ball back over to Baptist Hill. The Bobcats gained two successive first downs and appeared to have all of the momentum. A fumble on the next play changed all of that. That’s the “magic” of Donald R. Poole Stadium on display as Ja’Quan Toney scooped the looses ball and sprinted 68 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 9:04 left in the quarter. Grayson Booth’s PAT kick sailed through the uprights giving the Silver Foxes a 16-12 advantage. The Bobcats started from their own 29 and a pass completion for 33 yards put them back in Lamar territory. Four penalties against the Bobcats diminished a promising drive. Another 50-yard plus punt backed the Silver Foxes back to their own 16. From there, Martin carried the ball four times for 19 yards, Tyler McManus added two carries for 17 yards, and Mcphail ripped off a 31-yard scamper to put the ball on the Bobcats 18-yard line as the third quarter ended.
The Silver Foxes failed to capitalize, though, and ran out of downs at the Bobcats 10-yard line. Baptist Hill ran off nine plays but were plagued by two penalties and were forced to punt. Starting on their own 13-yard line, an illegal procedure penalty moved the Silver Foxes back to their 8. The next play was a loss of two yards. From the six, Mcphail raced for 42 yards and Lamar was eating up clock in the process. They finally had to punt from the Bobcats 39-yard line with just 1:14 to play. With no timeouts remaining, the Bobcats connected on pass plays of 8 and 20 yards but the second completion was kept in bounds by the swarming Silver Foxes defense and the Bobcats had to spike the ball to stop the clock with 0:22 to play. A sack on the next play ended any hopes that the trip back to Hollywood would be an enjoyable one.
The Silver Foxes improved their record to 9-3 and will now face an undefeated Johnsonville team on the road next weekend.
Lamar controlled time-of-possession and totaled 311 rushing yards on the night. Mcphail accounted for 210 of those himself as the workhorse carried the pigskin 26 times in the game.