NORTH AUGUSTA --- Homecoming victories aren't supposed to be this difficult.
The script usually calls for the home team to select a pageant queen and steamroll the opponent. Everyone goes home happy.
North Augusta got more than it bargained for against White Knoll, and the Yellow Jackets had to rally in the fourth quarter to pull out a 21-20 victory.
Tempers ran high late in the game, and North Augusta quarterback Loranzo Hammonds was ejected. He could miss next week's game at South Aiken.
The excitement on the field began with less than 7 minutes to play. Hammonds was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled toward his sideline. He was hit late, and out of bounds, and some shoving ensued.
The 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the Timberwolves' 17. On the next play, Hammonds lofted a touchdown pass to Montez McGuire. Mitch Redd's extra point gave North Augusta its first lead at 21-20.
After North Augusta was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the kickoff, White Knoll fumbled the ball and the Yellow Jackets recovered. Hammonds came off the sideline and appeared to push a couple of White Knoll defenders, and he did not come back in the game.
Tyrell Hillary came in as the relief quarterback, and he led North Augusta to a couple of first downs and helped them run out the clock after another White Knoll turnover.
"I'm embarrassed. We've got to do a better job," North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said. "It's not how we do it and I haven't seen the video, but we'll know exactly what happened."
Hammonds confirmed he was ejected from the game and admitted he got "a little hot headed."
"I think we kept playing hard," Hammonds said. "We got turnovers and we made plays out of them."
North Augusta (7-1, 2-0 in Region 5-AAAA) couldn't solve White Knoll's rushing attack in the first half, but Pippin's staff made adjustments at halftime.
North Augusta did not punt in the game, as Pippin elected to go for it on fourth downs frequently.
After both teams scored, the Timberwolves (5-2, 0-2) marched 97 yards for their second score, an 8-yard run by Justin Rose, and got a break when North Augusta fumbled on the kickoff return. After a penalty, Rose scored on a 14-yard run to put White Knoll up 20-7.
North Augusta's defense finally held, and Hammonds drove the Yellow Jackets to the end zone just before halftime. The big play was a 31-yard pass to Jessie Pernell, and then Hammonds found DeVontez Rouse for a 15-yard score.
"There are some things we need to shore up, but we're 7-1 and did not play well at all," Pippin said. "We'll just keep working."