PETTICOAT JUNCTION, S.C.— Silver Bluff couldn’t move the ball on the ground, lost one of its top tacklers and tallied more punts than first downs. That might explain why an honest Al Lown stood on the field after his team’s 14-13 win over Aiken scratching his head and trying to explain how the Bulldogs did it.
“Who knows? I got no clue,” the Silver Bluff coach said. “But I told everybody we had the best summer we’ve ever had as far as conditioning and running. Yeah, we got cramped and we got tired, but they were a lot bigger team leaning on us. It wasn’t pretty, and it isn’t going to be pretty when we’re playing schools like that. But we won the game.”
Silver Bluff (1-0) managed just 125 total yards of offense and averaged less than three yards per carry on the ground.
But Aiken (0-1) gave away one touchdown when junior quarterback Will Heggs fumbled the snap at the Aiken 1-yard line, setting the Bulldogs up for an easy score and 7-0 lead fewer than three minutes into the game.
Silver Bluff’s other score came when quarterback Jalen Jackson caught the Aiken defense off guard with a 37-yard pass to Shaquez Wright that immediately doubled the Bulldogs’ total offense. Jackson dived in from a yard out five plays later to take a 14-7 lead.
The Bulldogs defense gave up yards to Aiken’s Wing-T offense, especially after senior starting linebacker Tyler Fishalow reaggravated a hand injury early in the second quarter.
When Aiken did finally put a scoring drive together with 6:23 left in the fourth quarter, the comeback was botched when sophomore kicker Jacob Norton missed the extra point to keep Silver Bluff ahead 14-13.
Aiken’s defense held Silver Bluff on the next possession and a botched snap on the punt attempt gave the Hornets the ball back with 2:32 left at the Bulldogs’ 39.
But Silver Bluff’s defense saved the day again, stopping the drive at the 12-yard line when Aiken’s Heggs fell down at the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1.
“We got down there and had a few miscues,” Aiken coach Carey Johnson said. “The first time under the lights we saw some positive things and some things we need to work on.”
Aiken blew two other potential scoring opportunities in the second half when Silver Bluff’s Stacy Green grabbed a late third-quarter interception and linebacker Carl Smith tackled Heggs for a four-yard loss on third-and-2 early in the fourth quarter.