Evans junior running back Jonathan Finch scored two times against Hephzibah, but his punting had just as much to do with Friday's 21-12 win as his 37- and 67-yard scores.
Finch punted only twice, but his two second-half boots covered 46 and 45 yards. The last one skidded to a stop short of the goal line, pinning the Rebels at their own 7. Hephzibah scored just once in the second half, partly because of poor field position.
Coach Marty Jackson said he wants Finch to punt as little as possible because it can be difficult to punt after absorbing a punishing hit.
"A lot of times he gets his bell rung on third down and he's back there punting," Jackson said.
The punt team was having trouble with the wet turf, so Jackson said he subbed in Finch in the second half because he gets his kicks away quickly. Evans had a punt blocked in the first quarter, but Hephzibah couldn't earn any points even though it took over 8 yards from the end zone.
KICKING WOES: Hephzibah's poor kicking game forced it to play from behind most of the night.
The Rebels scored first but badly missed their point-after kick. That allowed Evans to go ahead 7-6 on its first touchdown, and it never trailed again. Jamie Galvin was perfect on three extra-point attempts for the Knights.
"Our kicking game is not our strength, but it's not for a lack of trying," Hephzibah coach John Bowen said. "We got to somehow get us a kicker. For us get to the next level, we have to get someone who can kick."
TIGHT REGION: Entering Friday's play, South Carolina's Region 5-AAAA had four teams, including North Augusta, atop the standings at 3-1 in region play and Aiken trailed close behind at 2-2. Aiken will play Monday night with a chance to move into a tie for fourth or possibly third in the region with North Augusta, which took a hit with an overtime loss to Richland Northeast on Friday.
Irmo joined Richland Northeast at 4-1 in region play with a win this weekend (Lexington, at 3-1, played Saturday), but the lead is only one game ahead of North Augusta and possibly Aiken.
"It's an extremely tough region, and the whole thing's just going to come down to one play or two," Richland Northeast coach Jay Frye said. "I don't think there is a frontrunner right now."
JOHNSON AILING: North Augusta linebacker Brett Johnson , who has had a nagging foot injury this season, tried to play in the important region matchup with Richland Northeast. The senior didn't start the game, but he couldn't stand watching from the sidelines when the game entered the fourth quarter at 14-14.
Johnson took the field for Richland Northeast's first full possession of the fourth quarter. But after the Cavaliers ran right at him for gains of 6 and 24 yards, Johnson hobbled off the field and didn't return.
"It hurt us a lot that he wasn't in there 100 percent, but the kid that went in for him did a great job," North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said.
KEEPING IT REAL: After his team handed Washington County its first loss of the season, Burke County coach Eric Parker looked ahead to the coming week's contest at Thomson.
Keeping his team humble after the win won't be a problem, Parker said.
"We've got another good team coming down the road," Parker said. "I think we're going to have the Mack Brown (Texas coach) burial of the football on Monday. We've got to get ready for Thomson, because I know they won't be welcoming us real nice."
KEEPING IT REAL, PART II: Washington County coach Joel Ingram knew after the game he and his staff would catch flak for losing to a team with a 4-3 record.
But Burke County's record is deceptive. The Bears' three losses have come to teams with a combined 20-5 record.
"We knew coming in they were a great team," Ingram said. "We came in here mentally prepared to play. They just made more plays and they beat us."
MAKING STRIDES: Aquinas coach Bill Tenore watched his young squad drop a 32-0 decision Friday night against Warren County. The loss put an end to playoff hopes this season.
But Tenore said the Irish are making improvements in his second year at the helm, even if it isn't apparent in the win-loss columns.
"We're a better football team at this point than we were last year, even though we did win the last three," Tenore said. "We're doing a lot more offensively. I think we're playing more consistently. There's definitely some strides being made."
Aquinas wraps up the season against Hancock Central and Washington-Wilkes.
Chris Gay, Billy Byler and John Boyette contributed to this report.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RUSHING: Seth Hill, Harlem 22 carries, 266 yards, 3 touchdowns
PASSING: Keenan Grissett, Cross Creek 10-for-17, 189 yards, one touchdown
RECEIVING: Bobby Burum, Burke County 7 catches, 103 yards