Catawba Ridge’s Tyler Fikis throws a pass during the Copperheads second round game at North Augusta. Mike Adams/Augusta Press

NORTH AUGUSTA – A second round game with a two-and-a-half-hour drive and a misty field wasn’t the conditions that the Catawba Ridge Copperheads were hoping for, however, they made the most of it with a 37-14 win over the North Augusta Yellow Jackets. 

The win puts Catawba Ridge at 11-1 on the season as they become the first ever Fort Mill Township football team to win 11 games in a season. The win gave Copperheads head coach Zac Lendyak a birthday to remember.

“To be able to win and play as poorly as we did in the second quarter says a lot about these guys,” Lendyak said. “They fought through it. We weren’t playing our style of football.”

The Copperheads offense struggled at times moving the ball but was able to make the necessary adjustments to score when they needed to. Catawba Ridge was led by quarterback Tyler Fikis who went 11-for-21 for 136 yards passing and a touchdown. Fikis also ran for 77 yards on 16 carries and two rushing touchdowns. His main receiver in the game was Brady Ambrose with two catches and 44 yards. Tyler Jones also rushed for 53 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. 

Next week, the Copperheads travel to Greenville for a third-round game. 

Holding onto a seven point lead to open the fourth quarter, the Copperheads were able to put together a good drive in the final quarter. They needed to score to extend their lead and kicker Kohen Kozel came through hitting a 39-yard field goal with 9:20 left in the game ending the nine-play, 78-yard drive. 

On the next Copperheads’ drive, Ira Mister came up with a crucial 30-yard run to get Catawba Ridge across midfield. Mister did the majority of work getting them into the red zone before Jones finished with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 30-14 with about three minutes left in the game. 

Sheldon Crawford put the finishing touches on the game with the next defensive play as he had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown on North Augusta first play of the next drive to make it 37-14 to help seal the deal. 

Catawba Ridge opened the second half clinging to a one score lead after struggling to get the offense going in the second quarter. The first series didn’t go well for the Copperheads leading to their third consecutive punt between the second and third quarter. 

The Copperheads were able to finally put a good drive together on their second third quarter series as they went 41-yards after getting a turnover on downs and scored on eight plays as Miles Baucom caught a deflected pass from Fikis to score on a 12-yard touchdown to go up 21-7 with about 5:36 in the quarter. 

North Augusta didn’t go quietly and came back with a 31-yard pass to get them inside the 10-yard line and then would score on a 7-yard run to close the gap. 

The second quarter was all Yellow Jackets as they controlled the ball and the clock for the first 8:30 between the first and second quarters ending in a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the 14-0 lead in half. North Augusta had two fourth down conversions on the drive which was key to them scoring. 

North Augusta figured out the Copperheads’ run game and forced them to punt on their first drive of the second quarter, which ended with 2:15 left in the half. The Catawba Ridge offense struggled in the second quarter as Fikis felt more pressure and was forced to scramble more out of the box. 

The Copperheads weren’t bothered by the rain in the opening quarter as they scored twice in the first quarter, both coming off quarterback sneaks by Fikis. The opening score came with 6:23 in the quarter when he ran in from 4-yards out on Catawba Ridge’s first drive. 

An interception by Brody Tesimale on North Augusta’s next series gave the Copperheads the ball back at midfield. Fikis hit tight end Brody Ambrose for a 30-yard pick up to get them to the 6-yard line where Fikis again called his number to score. 

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

Tyler Jones looks for running room during the Copperheads game at North Augusta Friday night. Mike Adams/Augusta Press