BLYTHEWOOD – Running back Tyler Jones scored two touchdowns and racked up more than 150 yards to help Catawba Ridge secure a gritty 28-20 win over the Westwood Redhawks Friday night in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
With the win, the Copperheads will next travel to play Greenwood High next Friday in the second round of the playoffs. Greenwood defeated Pickens 49-3 in their first-round matchup.
“We just wanted to come out and we knew we had to live to fight another day,” said Catawba Ridge coach Zac Lendyak. “We knew that we were just a couple players away. (Jones) has been the workhorse for us. He’s a great key, a great running back.”
Catawba Ridge entered the matchup after finishing third in Region 3-AAAA. Westwood finished as the No. 2 seed in Region 4-AAAA, earning a share of its first region title in school history (tied with A.C. Flora and Irmo). With the loss to Catawba Ridge, Westwood finishes its 2021 season with a 5-5 record.
The first half of Friday’s first-round matchup was filled with highlight plays, especially for the home team.
Catawba Ridge took the lead early in the first quarter when talented sophomore quarterback Jadyn Davis found wide receiver Trevor Testerman wide open without a defender in sight through the middle of the field for a 25-yard touchdown.
Davis, who was named the top football recruit in the Class of 2024 by 247Sports.com, tallied around 150 passing yards on a night where he completed 10-of-17 passes.
After a quiet first quarter, the hosts made themselves known. It only took two plays on Westwood’s first play of the second quarter when quarterback Cam Brown found receiver Jayden Harrison for a 64-yard score. Brown spotted Harrison dashing down the right sideline, Harrison corralled the ball on the Catawba Ridge 30, and outran his defender on the way to the end zone.
After a 2-point conversion by Brown, the Redhawks led 8-7. Davis was able to lead his Copperheads team from its own 44 down to the Westwood 18, but Davis tossed an interception to defensive back Jordan Jenkins, ending the promising drive early.
Still, Catawba Ridge converted on some of its opportunities. After a blocked Westwood punt, Catawba Ridge got back on offense on the Westwood 26. Running back Ira Mister helped pave the ground game before Tyler Jones was able to burst in and score from 5 yards out to retake the lead, 14-8, with 3:07 left on the clock.
“I was feeling great,” Jones said after the game. “The adrenaline was pumping, the guys were hyping me up, the coaches hyped me up. I think it really shows what me and the O-line was able to do.”
But even Jones’ big day couldn’t stop Westwood’s ability with the fast break. After taking over on the Redhawks’ 39 on the next possession, running back Julian Milligan popped his way through the middle and ran it all the way home for a 61-yard score. The 2-pt conversion did not fall Westwood’s way, which made it a 14-14 ballgame heading into halftime.
“We had to understand that when (Brown) got loose, he’d make big plays,” Lendyak said. “We played with a ‘bend, don’t break’ mentality.”
The go-ahead score, Jones’ second of the night, came on a pass play early in the third quarter. After taking over on his own 33, Davis helped lead the Copperheads downfield, then found Jones open in the flat on the near sideline once he crossed midfield. Jones was able to rumble his way into the end zone from 40 yards out to put Catawba Ridge up 21-14.
Harrison caught a 4-yard score from Brown early in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 21-20, but the Redhawks missed their 2-point conversion. And just three minutes later, Davis finished off a 10-play drive with a scoring rush to make it 28-20.
Westwood took the ball back with about 5 minutes to play. The Redhawks made it to the Catawba Ridge 39, but Brown threw an incompletion on fourth and 13, handing possession back to the Copperheads, who ran out the clock.
“We just wanted a chance to go as far as we could go,” Lendyak said. “And the seniors aren’t done yet. We’re excited to keep it going.”
The team will now focus on its upcoming second-round matchup against Greenwood. It’s a matchup that the Copperheads are already relishing: They see it as an opportunity to exact revenge after Greenwood beat Catawba Ridge 17-14 at The Pit back in September.
“We didn’t get that game, and now we want this game,” said Jones. “We’re coming for Greenwood and we’re coming for state.”