Eagles Use Late Score To Edge Out Lake View, 30-22, In Lower State Final
The Class A Division II Lower State Championship was an exciting game for the Lake View Wild Gators football team on Friday.
Every bit of it was exciting, except for the final 65 seconds of play when a tie game slipped into a 30-22 loss to host team Scott’s Branch (8-5 record) of Summerton.
Scott’s Branch (with 15 starters back from last year’s state title team) will now face Williston-Elko (44-20 winners over Ware Shoals in the Upper State final) on Friday at Noon on the campus of South Carolina State University for the state championship. The same two teams played for the 2008 title, which Scott’s Branch won in a 14-6 game.
Friday’s game marked the first time all season that a team scored more than 28 points on Lake View (8-4 final record). Dillon scored 28 on the Wild Gators in Week One.
The Lake View squad had the defending state champion Eagles in a 22-22 tie, and had the ball on their own 21-yard line with 1:10 left in regulation.
But a fumbled snap was pounced on by Eagles defensive lineman Joshua Lee. Two plays later, Scott’s Branch senior tailback Quenton Singleton (6-foot, 185 pounds) ran in the game-winning score on a 13-yard toss sweep play with 47.5 seconds left. Singleton added the 2-point run for the final tally.
Lake View had a final drive that reached the Eagles 25-yard line as time expired on the Wild Gators season.
It was who got the breaks late that won the game, said Lake View second-season head coach Daryl King. We knew it was going to be a battle coming here to play the defending state champions.
That offense they run is tough to defend.
Scott’s Branch likes to run a double wing offense and the 46 gambier defense, both
of which are systems taught by well-known coach and system teacher Steve Calande. With 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior quarterback Jerrell Adams, Singleton and 5-foot-9, 190-pound tailback Kadeem Baxter all being serious running threats, the double wing keeps defenses guessing on each snap.
Singleton, who played the last 37 minutes of the game with a sore ankle, finished the game with 257 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns. He unofficially moved into fifth all-time in the state for career rushing yards.
“I’m just proud to have the opportunity,” said Singleton, who surpassed former Timberland star Rockarius King on the South Carolina High School League all-time list with 6,499 career rushing yards. “It’s the system that does it, it’s not the players. Anybody in the backfield can pretty much do it.”
And the Blue Steel defense, as the Eagles have called their defense for a while, slowed several drives for the Wild Gators.
“That’s what happens when you play hard all the time,” said Scott’s Branch head coach Leonard Johnson. “We thought we were headed to overtime and they made a mistake. Our kids smelled it and jumped on it and took advantage of it.”
On the offensive side of the ball Friday, senior tailback Kentell Kelly had a great game for the Wild Gators, finishing with 178 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries. Kelly, playing linebacker, also had a team-high 7 tackles on defense.
Our kids played hard all game, King said. I’m real proud of our players (including 11 seniors) and our coaches.
It was a good job for us to get this far in playoffs, playing 4 straight weeks on the road.
The Eagles had given Lake View a gift with less than 8 minutes left to play, as Singleton fumbled the ball and Wild Gator Jerome Mason recovered it on the Lake View 16-yard line. That ended a 13-play, 66-yard drive that would have given Scott’s Branch the final lead earlier.
But, Lake View was forced to punt after notching one first down and one penalty on the ensuing drive.
The Wild Gators defense then forced a 3-and-out by the Eagles, who punted. That set up the Lake View possession where the Wild Gators accidentally returned the gift in the form of a fumbled snap.
The game started with some exciting football, much like how it ended.
Scott’s Branch got a 68-yard gain on a fake punt pas from Adams to senior tight end Tim Bryant. That set up a Singleton TD on a 2-yard run with 7:54 left in the first quarter.
Lake View answered right back, getting a 6-play 71-yard drive that ended with a 48-yard scoring run by Kelly. Senior tailback A.J. Washington ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-8 score.
Lake View stalled a Scott’s Branch drive just before the quarter ended. That set up a 12-play, 65-yard drive by the Wild Gators. The drive was highlighted by a 14-yard pass play from senior quarterback Joseph Hayes to Mason on a 4th-and-3 play. That play was followed by a 4-yard TD carry by Kelly. Sophomore fullback Kenneth Turner added the 2-point conversion for a 16-8 Lake View lead with 6:56 left in the half.
Scott’s Branch answered just before the half, getting a 6-yard TD carry from Singleton, ending a 12-play, 55-yard drive. Adams ran in the 2-point conversion on a naked bootleg.
Lake View’s first drive of the third quarter signaled tough times to come, as the Wild Gators covered a 2nd-down fumble, only to lose the ball to Adams on a 3rd-down fumble.
Both teams took turns getting a punt on the following two possessions. After that, Singleton took a first-down hand-off and raced 83 yards through two possible Lake View tackles for a score. Adams fumbled the 2-point attempt, leaving the score 22-16 in favor of the Eagles.
Lake View answered on the following series, going 55 yards in 6 plays. Kelly got a 40-yard run to start the drive and finished it with a 2-yard carry. The 2-point run was fumbled.
Defensively, several Wild Gators players had solid games. Sophomore linebacker Brody Smith had 7 tackles, senior defensive back A.J. Washington added 6 tackles, and both senior defensive lineman Roderick Robinson and senior defensive back Joseph Hayes added 5 tackles apiece.