NORTH AUGUSTA — As the final seconds ticked down Friday night at Lions Field, Fox Creek coach Russell Schneider kneeled down and offered words of encouragement to one of his players.
The Predators lost 27-7 against Williston-Elko, but Schneider’s players had nothing to hang their heads about. Fox Creek gave Williston-Elko, the perennial power in Region 4-A, a tough test.
“Our kids didn’t quit,” Schneider said. “That’s the closest we’ve ever played them.”
Fox Creek (4-2, Region 4-A 1-1) scored first on a 29-yard pass from Deondre Baskett to Darshon Broadwater, and Williston-Elko (5-2, 3-0 region) needed a fluke play to take a 13-7 lead at the half.
On the kickoff following Fox Creek’s score, the Blue Devils’ return man lost the football. Faheem Richburg picked up the fumble and raced 70 yards down his team’s sideline and into the end zone.
“We laid it on the ground, and the ball kind of kicked out to the left,” Williston-Elko coach Dwayne Garrick said. “I don’t think anyone knew where it was for about 10 yards. That was a fortunate play for us.”
The Blue Devils added a 6-yard touchdown run by Marcell Wright to take the lead at halftime.
Fox Creek received the second half kickoff and marched inside Williston-Elko’s 25 before officials ruled a fumble was recovered by the visitors.
Antonio Coleman added a short touchdown run for Williston-Elko, and Andrew Milligan tacked on a 43-yard scoring run as the Blue Devils took control for good.
“Fox Creek is a good football team. The second half we started clicking,” Garrick said. “Better defense gave us better field position. We like to shorten the field, and I think we played much better on defense in the second half.”
After losing 38-0 two years ago to Williston-Elko, when he had his best team record-wise, Schneider knows his team is improving. The Predators turned the ball over three times, and committed nine penalties.
But Fox Creek also kept Williston-Elko’s offense, which had scored 54 or more points in three consecutive games, in check for most of the night.
“We shot ourselves in the foot, but the thing we learned tonight is we can play with them,” Schneider said.