|North Augusta takes the field for Friday's rivalry game.|
Playing in front of a capacity crowd, North Augusta responded to an early Strom Thurmond touchdown, scoring 28 unanswered points, and defeating their non region rival 34-21 at home Friday, improving to 5-0 for the season.
The Rebels (3-2) had to have an upset on their minds after intercepting a pass on the game's first play and returning it inside North Augusta's 5 yard line to set up the game's first score, a 12 yard touchdown connection between quarterback Jaquan Harris and receiver Tyrek Williams. But on the very next play from scrimmage, North Augusta quarterback Landon Washington found Junius Walker, who avoided a tackler and ran 30 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 7. The home crowd almost saw their Yellow Jackets tie it even sooner, when Dejuan Bell was tripped up by the kicker on his 37 yard kick off return that set up Walker's touchdown reception.
In our post game interview, Washington talked about "bouncing back" and moving on from throwing an interception on his first play to making a touchdown toss on his second: "We just had to let it go, have amnesia, like I've said for all my years playing. We bounced back from it great. Played great."
|Landon Washington threw for a touchdown and ran for another Friday.|
Running through huge holes plowed by guard Bryce Williamson and tackle Sam Bryant, running back Derius Gibson provided most of North Augusta's yardage for the next two quarters. First Gibson went for 68 yards to take the Yellow Jackets from their own 4 yard line into Rebel territory. North Augusta came up empty on that drive after a blocked field goal. But Gibson promptly made gains of 38 and 22 yards on the next drive to set up an 8 yard touchdown run by Washington to give the Yellow Jackets a 15-7 second quarter lead.
|Derius Gibson rushed for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries.|
North Augusta's defense did its part, first by turning over Strom Thurmond on downs after a 35 yard reception by Williams put the Rebels on the Jackets' 25 yard line. Thurmond was unable to pick up the next first down after 4 Jaquan Edwards carries. Later in the half, North Augusta forced a turnover on an Edwards fumble. And the second quarter finished with two Strom Thurmond three-and-outs.
Gibson ran for his first touchdown on the first series of the third quarter by avoiding a tackler in the backfield and proceeding to run untouched for 40 yards to give the Jackets a 22-7 lead. Kashaun Johnson added another score on a 55 yard punt return to give North Augusta its largest lead at 28-7.
Williams, having taken the quarterback duties from the injured Harris, scored his second touchdown on a 55 yard keeper to narrow the deficit to two scores (28-14). The 6'3" 230 pounder played impressively in all aspects Friday, gaining a total of 158 yards from scrimmage (92 running and 66 receiving).
|Edwards (30) rushed for 117 and Williams (right) accounted for 158 from scrimmage.|
But after each team was forced to punt once, Gibson scored his second touchdown from 1 yard out to give North Augusta a 34-14 fourth quarter lead. Gibson's second touchdown of the game came after a 34 yard scoring drive, set up by a very short Thurmond punt.
Edwards, who ran for 117 yards on 27 carries, provided the game's final score on an 11 yard run late in the fourth quarter.
North Augusta (5-0, 0-0) visits Lower Richlands (2-3) Friday for its final non region game. Strom Thurmond (3-2, 0-0) will host region foe Edisto (3-2).