ROCK HILL – Small mistakes snatch a win out of the hands of the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets as they fell to the Rock Hill Bearcats 35-28 Friday at District III Stadium.
Both teams came into Friday night’s game looking to pick up a Region 3-5A win, but more importantly turning around a season where both teams have struggled. Rock Hill came in with a 1-5 record, while Fort Mill was still looking for the elusive win. The Jackets drop to 0-2 in region play after the loss and 0-7 overall on the season.
Fort Mill led 28-27 to open the fourth quarter, but was forced to punt on their opening series of the final period. The Jackets had played well all game on both sides of the ball. Defensively Fort Mill took away the Bearcats pass by rushing three and dropping eight back forcing them to keep the ball on the ground most of the game.
“We aren’t interested in moral victories,” said Fort Mill head coach Rob McNeely. “Our kids are fighting for each other.”
With about 6:50 left in the game, Fort Mill was trying to punt from the end zone and got a penalty. On the second attempt the ball went out of the back of the end zone to give the Bearcats a safety and a 29-28 lead. Rock Hill then got the ensuing kickoff and went 54-yards to score on an 18-yard run to extend their lead.
“The penalty killed us on the punt,” McNeely said. “These are things that you have to overcome.”
The Bearcats didn’t waste any time as they scored on a four-yard run just three minutes into the opening quarter.
Fort Mill fumbled on their first series which allowed Rock Hill to scoop and score on a 16-yard fumble recovery for the Bearcats leading to a touchdown.
Fort Mill started a drive to end the first quarter and open the second one as they moved the ball well getting across midfield. The Jackets tried a trick play with a fake field goal, which ended in an interception by Fort Mill as Jaylin Chambers tried to hit a receiver down the left side of the field.
The Jackets scored for the first time in three games as the got a bad punt from Rock Hill that went their way and started at the Bearcats 35-yard line. Two big runs for Fort Mill got them to the 7-yard line where Eli Craddock finished it off with a powerful run to get on the board on the next play.
Rock Hill returned the ensuing kickoff for a score, but the score was negated on a holding penalty. The Bearcats were able to put together a drive as they ate up the second quarter gaining yards and draining time off the clock. The ground and pound offense for Rock Hill resulted in a 16-yard touchdown run with 5:32 left in the second quarter to put them up 21-7 over the Jackets.
Fort Mill wouldn’t go quietly as on their next drive Isaiah Haynes hit Dylan Schaefer for a 45-yard reception to get them past midfield. Haynes ran the ball to keep the Jackets moving as he would get them to the goal line where Cade Haley would punch it in to keep Fort Mill in the game.
In the first half, Fort Mill was able to pick up eight first downs and had 178 total yards as Haynes went 7-for-8 for 95 yards passing. They also had 83 yards on the ground.
Fort Mill took the opening kickoff in the second half as Haynes found Schaefer on a couple occasions to allow the Jackets to get big gains. Schaefer had runs of 13 yards and caught a 13-yard pass to get Fort Mill past midfield. Haynes then hit Van Piercy for a big gain to put the Jackets in the red zone and a couple plays later Haynes would then find Haley for an 8-yard touchdown pass with seven minutes left in the quarter to tie the game up at 21-21.
The Jackets continued to look good on offense and again moved the ball well going nine plays for 60-yards to score for their second consecutive series. This time it was Haynes who hit Schaefer for a 5-yard touchdown with about three minutes to go in the quarter. That was just the third time Fort Mill has led this year with the go-ahead score.
Rock Hill came back to score on an 87-yard drive scoring in nine plays with a 28-yard touchdown pass. That would have tied the game, but the Bearcats missed the extra point.
For the game, Haynes was 16-for-21 for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He also was the leading rusher for Fort Mill with 19 rushes for 102 yards. Schaefer was the leading receiver for the Jackets catching five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.
It is Homecoming for Fort Mill next week as they host Spring Valley still looking for that first win.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep