By Brock Hamrick
Special to Fort Mill Prep Sports
GAFFNEY – Looking to spoil Homecoming, the Nation Ford Falcons football team came up short on Friday night, falling 49-28 to the Gaffney Indians on the road at The Reservation.
The win drops the Falcons to .500 on the season at 4-4 and 2-1 in Region 3-5A competition. The Tribe’s victory betters their record to 8-0 on the season and 2-0 in region play.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Gaffney’s Tyler Smith found an open lane, darting 83 yards on the second play from scrimmage to give the Indians the early 7-0 advantage.
Forced to punt it away on its opening possession, Nation Ford had its punt blocked as Eddie Tate-McDowell recovered the football in the endzone to give Gaffney a 14-0 lead.
The Falcons would respond with a seven play, 76-yard drive capped by receiver Quadier Hand’s touchdown reception from quarterback Carson Black. Eight plays later Gaffney quarterback Grayson Loftis found Edward Jefferies for a 33-yard connection to extend the Indians lead back to 14 points.
Loftis threw his second touchdown of the night on the next Gaffney drive, finding Jadarius Littlejohn open in the end zone as the Indians gained the lead, 28-7.
Gaffney added another touchdown before halftime as Tyler Smith scored from two yards out to hand the Tribe a 35-14 advantage.
A defensive battle gave way in the third quarter as Nation Ford struck first with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Black to Jerrick Foster. Gaffney responded with a quick three play 60-yard drive finished off by Ken Littlejohn on a short touchdown carry.
Black and Foster connected again for another touchdown, followed by a touchdown pass to Brooks Johnson. Nation Ford pulled within 14 points with 5:15 left in the game.
Javari Bonner would deliver the final blow for the Indians from 25-yards out as the Indians secured the region victory.
Gaffney’s Tyler Smith finished the night with 15 carries for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Smith broke the 1,000-yard barrier on the season in the Indians win over the Falcons.
Nation Ford outgained Gaffney on the stat sheet, recording 521 yards of total offense compared to the Tribe’s 499. Black finished the night 30-for-43 with 457 yards through the air and four touchdowns. Keenan Bowman and Hand finished with over 100 yards receiving with 151 and 131 respectively.
Gaffney travels to Clover next Friday with a chance to secure the region title and, in doing so, guarantee itself two home playoff games.
The Falcons will be in preparation for their regular season finale against Clover in two weeks. A win for Nation Ford will lock up second place in the region, rewarding Michael Allen’s team with a home playoff game to begin the post-season on Nov. 5.