INDIAN LAND – The Indian Land Warriors closed out their 46-year-old stadium, nicknamed the Reservation, with a 54-7 win over former rivals the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets.
Fort Mill (0-6) tried to play spoiler for the Warriors as they came into the Reservation as Indian Land’s final opponent. The two opponents have a rich history as the former rivals started to play each other back in the 1970s on a more consistent basis. As Fort Mill grew in size, their rivalry grew apart and they didn’t play each other as often. Now that Indian Land is growing just as fast, the two teams took to the field at the Reservation for a final time.
The last time the two teams played was a 52-0 win by the Yellow Jackets in 1997. Fort Mill lead the all-time series 19-1-1. That Indian Land win came Sept. 5, 1986 with a 14-10 victory.
Indian Land (3-4) will be moving into a new high school down U.S. 521 with a new stadium to open in 2021. The Reservation held its first game for Indian Land Sept. 20, 1974.
Fort Mill came into the game wanting to end the season on a good note. That didn’t happen. Jackets’ head coach Rob McNeely said he knows things have to change.
“The secret is in the dirt,” McNeely said. “It is in the weight room. It’s in hard work. It’s in preparation. I know I have things I have to change. We have to build a culture the right way. It starts with the players mindset, but first and foremost, it starts with me.”
The Jackets pulled out some trickery on their first series with a fake punt, but couldn’t get to the end zone and then missed a 30-yard field goal three plays later. That gave the ball back to Indian Land, who scored on a double pass on their first play of the game as Caleb Gleason hit Yasir Speaks for 80-yards.
After the trick plays from both teams, each squad’s defense stepped up to make stops and slow the game down.
Indian Land went back to the one thing that has propelled them over the years in the run game and was able to move the ball and pound it up into the Fort Mill secondary. Freshman Jaden Singletary took command for the Warriors on the drive for Indian Land. The Warriors used a personal foul called on Fort Mill to their advantage getting them into the red zone. On the next play, quarterback Blake Goode hit Miegwel Lewis for a 20-yard touchdown extending the Indian Land lead.
Fort Mill bounced back on the next series and went to their biggest offensive threat all season in Will Alvarado as Alvarado found the left corner and hit the jets for a 73-yard touchdown run to cut into the Indian Land lead with about 8:13 left in the first half.
The seven-point deficit lasted only so long as Indian Land again used the run to score on six plays, going 75 yards with a TJ Thomas 46-yard touchdown run.
Late in the first half, Fort Mill fumbled on the verge of the end zone and the Warriors capitalized on it, putting together a 98-yard drive. Indian Land scored with about 39 seconds left in the first half to put the game away and go up 28-7 as Goode hit Jeremiah Strickland with a 43-yard touchdown pass.
If the game wasn’t out of hand at the half, Indian Land made sure it was in the third quarter as Goode hit Sean McCray on back-to-back passes one of which was for 57-yards and the second was for a 20-yard touchdown, all of those within the first 36 seconds of the second half.
Indian Land used a pretty mixed offense in the game passing for 327 yards and rushing for 283 yards unofficially. Thomas rushed for 120 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Goode passed for 247 yards on 13-for-17 through the air. McCray was the leading receiver for Indian Land hauling in five catches for 82 yards. Strickland also caught two passes for 89 yards for Indian Land and two scores. The Warriors piled up 25 first downs in the game.
Fort Mill was led by Alvarado who rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries. Jackets’ quarterback Kyle Neibch went 13-for-28 for 103 yards passing. Dylan Schaefer was the leading receiver for Fort Mill catching three passes for 22 yards.
Indian Land will finish the regular season next week at Marlboro County as they won’t be in the playoffs this season.
Indian Land 54, Fort Mill 7
IL-Caleb Gleason 80-yard pass to Yasir Speaks, 8:22
IL-Blake Goode 20-yard pass to Mieqwel Lewis, 9:11
FM-Will Alvarado 73-yard run, 8:13
IL-TJ Thomas 46-yard run, 6:06
IL-Goode 43-yard pass to Jeremiah Strickland, 39.3
IL-Goode 20-yard pass to Sean McCray, 11:24
IL-Goode 46-yard pass to Strickland, 7:33
IL-Lewis 25-yard run,11:44
IL-Jaden Singletary 38-yard run, 7:32
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep