By John Turner
After being on the road for what seemed like a year, the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets returned home to the friendly confines of Bob Jones Stadium Friday night to battle Region 3-5A newcomers Spring Valley for Homecoming, but came away falling 28-21.
Two late turnovers would cost Fort Mill the game as it led to the game winning touchdown by Spring Valley. With the loss, Fort Mill falls to 0-8 on the season and 0-3 in Region 3-5A.
In the fourth quarter tied at 21-21, Fort Mill had the football first and 10 at their own 26-yard line when what seemed like a simple pitch and catch from quarterback Isaiah Haynes to Dylan Schaefer would gain about 4-yards when the ball popped out. Fort Mill players said they were down, while the Vikings claimed it was their ball. Spring Valley would get the benefit of the call and on the first play from scrimmage Evan Javis took it 22-yards right up the gut then cutting to the outside to give the Vikings the lead again 28-21 with just under two minutes to play fourth quarter.
On their next drive, Fort Mill would gain six yards on the first two plays setting up a third and 4 to go for the Jackets. Haynes would roll to his left trying to hit Helms on a dig route when Zion Fuller would step in front of the pass and pick it off before stepping out of bounds at the 27-yard line. The Vikings would take two knees and pick up a huge region victory.
In the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets got the crowd buzzing with an opening scoring drive capped off by touchdown pass from Haynes to Eli Craddock. Jackson Smith’s extra point was good and Fort Mill led 7-0 three minutes into the game. Fort Mill’s defense would get Spring Valley to go three and out on their opening drive and it seemed like Fort Mill was in the driver’s seat. However, the Vikings defense bowed its neck forcing a Fort Mill punt.
Spring Valley prides itself on running the football with a two back set and that got rolling on the Vikings second drive of the night.
But it was a pass that would put the Vikings’ first points on the board tying the score at 7-7 late first quarter.
Both teams would exchange punts when Fort Mill got the offense rolling again mainly on the legs of Haynes. Although, it would be his arm that would give the Jackets the lead hitting Schaefer from 26-yards out making it 14-7 midway second quarter.
The Jackets defense got another stop thanks to Spring Valley penalties setting up a bizarre scenario to finish the first half. Jackets had the ball with fourth down and 6 at the Spring Valley 19-yard line with 21.1 seconds left. Fort Mill lined up to attempt a 36-yard field goal from Smith. Spring Valley called a timeout to ice the kicker. Right before Fort Mill could snap the ball, Spring Valley took their second consecutive and last timeout of the half. The Jackets lined up again but this time it was Fort Mill who would call back-to-back timeouts. That was four timeouts with no time running off the clock.
Finally, the Jackets were able to snap the ball but Smith appeared to slip as he planted his left foot and the attempt was no good making the halftime score remain 14-7 in Fort Mill’s favor.
The Vikings would take the opening kick in the second half and drive right down the field throwing the football capped off by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Evan Davis. The extra point was good and just like that, it was a new ballgame tied at 14.
It was Spring Valley who seemed to have a bit more spring in their step in the third quarter on both sides of the ball. The Vikings were able to force a punt, thanks to stopping the run aided by a few Fort Mill penalties. Spring Valley’s Zion Fuller would plunge in from 1-yard out giving the Vikings their first lead of the game 21-14 near the end of the third quarter.
Both teams would trade punts while committing several unforced penalties. At one point, there was a punt where three penalties were called. It took over five minutes and two conversations with both head coaches to work it all out. Fort Mill would then go on an 84-yard drive capped off by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Haynes to Tysen Helms tying the game again this time at 21-21. That’s when the game would take an all too familiar turn for Fort Mill as they would go over to make the costly turnovers.
The Jackets stay at home next Friday night hosting the Clover Blue Eagles on Senior Night.