AIKEN --- South Aiken running back Chris Johnson picked a good night to have a breakout performance.
Homecoming? Check. Region opener? Check. Three touchdowns? Icing on the cake.
Johnson, a senior, rushed for 142 yards and accounted for all of the Thoroughbreds' scores in a 21-7 win over Dreher at the Stomping Grounds.
"This is the first time I ever scored more than one in a game," Johnson said. "It feels great."
South Aiken (2-4, 1-0 in Region 5-AAA) overcame numerous penalties and botched opportunities to knock off the visitors from Columbia.
Johnson put South Aiken on top early with a 77-yard run that left Dreher's defenders grabbing for his jersey in vain.
"I was pretty tired after that one. It was a good run," Johnson said with a smile. "That's what started it off."
A roughing the punter penalty gave Dreher new life on its next possession, and the Blue Devils (1-5, 0-1) drove 83 yards to tie the score on a 1-yard run by Leonard Kennedy.
South Aiken's defense clamped down after that, and Johnson added touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters to seal the win.
"Chris, the first game of the season a year ago against Aiken, he busted out for 100 yards or so. He's really come into his own the last two weeks," South Aiken coach Robert Wrightenberry said. "He wasn't getting the ball a whole lot, but we finally realized we need to put it in his hands a few more times."
South Aiken won for the second week in a row after starting with four losses to nonregion opponents. The young Thoroughbreds committed nine penalties and one turnover when a short punt bounced into a South Aiken player's leg.
"The same thing happened at Barnwell last week," Wrightenberry said of the turnover. "That's just some inexcusable stuff. That's mental breakdowns. Not knowing the situation, not being smart, and those things will come back to haunt you any day of the week."
Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or email@example.com.
SOUTH AIKEN 21, DREHER 7
PLAY OF THE GAME: Chris Johnson broke through Dreher's defensive line and raced down the left sideline 77 yards for South Aiken's first touchdown.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Johnson, a senior, scored three touchdowns for the Thoroughbreds in the homecoming victory.
WHY SOUTH AIKEN WON: It overcame a sloppy game by controlling the lines of scrimmage and rushing for 276 yards.
WHY DREHER LOST: The Blue Devils couldn't generate any offense on a consistent basis, and quarterback Jackson Edwards was scrambling out of the pocket most of the night.
NEXT: South Aiken at Brookland-Cayce, 7:30 p.m., Friday; Dreher at Midland Valley, 7:30 p.m., Friday.