ANDERSON – The TL Hanna Yellow Jackets ran through the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets in the first round of the 5A playoffs winning Friday 53-9.
It has been 25 years since Fort Mill football had won a playoff football game with the last win coming in 1998 against Greer on Nov. 13 of that year with a 46-14 win.
In those 25 years since a playoff win, Fort Mill has made the playoffs just nine times and lost each time in the first round. The last time Fort Mill was in the playoffs before Friday’s game at TL Hanna was in 2017.
The game Friday was the first time that Fort Mill had been in the playoffs in head coach Rob McNeely’s six seasons at the helm.
Fort Mill came in knowing they had a tall task ahead of them taking on the No. 2 team in 5A in TL Hanna. TL Hanna ran a form of the Wing-T with a lot of misdirection for the opposing defense to try and figure out who the ball carrier was on each play.
“It was a tough offense to prepare for,” said Fort Mill head coach Rob McNeely. “There is still a lot of work to do. I am excited for the younger guys coming up. I think we can build off this season.”
However, Fort Mill seemed up to the task to start the game. Fort Mill struck first hitting a 27-yard field goal on their first drive of the game. That was set up by a big catch from Tanner Mays that got them from the 28-yard line to the 1. Two negative plays later, the Jackets had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Noah Hardy.
TL Hanna came right back and wasn’t down too long as they ran a lot of misdirection which resulted in a 18-yard rushing score by KD Patterson.
On the next offensive drive for Fort Mill, Hanna blocked a punt and got the ball back at the 8-yard line. Patterson then scored on the next play to extend their lead with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
To open the second quarter, Vashun Burton rushed in from 58-yards away to put TL Hanna up 21-3 with 10:54 left in the half.
Fort Mill struggled to move the ball and couldn’t put together sustainable drives getting behind on third down often.
Patterson and the TL Hanna team continued to pound the ball on the ground as he would score his third touchdown of the half with about 5:28 left in the second quarter.
Fort Mill put together a decent drive in the second quarter about midway through crossing midfield. Kelly did well when he was given time to throw the ball, which he was on the drive. However, a penalty pushed them back across the 50 going in the wrong direction and Kelly was sacked on fourth down giving TL Hanna the ball at the Fort Mill 46.
Three plays later TL Hanna would punch it in from 17-yards out to go up 36-3 with 2:05 left in the first half.
Fort Mill didn’t help its own cause as a player ran into a TL Hanna player on a punt after a fair catch was called giving TL Hanna the ball back at 32-yard line of Fort Mill. Four plays later, Fort Mill forced TL Hanna to kick a 25-yard field goal to go up 39-3 at the half.
At the half, TL Hanna had unofficially 220 yards of rushing, while Fort Mill had 58 total yards.
Fort Mill opened the second half with the ball and moved it well getting a couple first downs. Kelly hit Mays on a couple passes getting them past midfield at the TL Hanna 39. Kelly competed his first three passes of the second half, but then TL Hanna started bringing a big rush attack. TL Hanna sacked Kelly knocking him out of the game and killing the drive for Fort Mill essentially.
Kelly ended the game going 11-for-26 for 93 yards. Mays caught four passes for 61 yards and on the ground Fort Mill rushed for 34 yards in the game as a team.
The two teams traded turnovers with TL Hanna getting the ball back at Fort Mill’s 6-yard line. They would then score on the next play to go up 46-3 and start the running clock for the game as they were up by more than 42-points.
In the fourth quarter, TL Hanna added another touchdown and Fort Mill did add a score with about 1:50 left as Logan Shope ripped the ball out of the hands of a TL Hanna running back and went 99-yards to score making it 53-9.
Fort Mill finished the season with a 2-9 record. TL Hanna, who improved to 10-1, will host Dutch Fork in the second-round next week.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep