PETTICOAT JUNCTION, S.C. — Silver Bluff fans got a reminder of what a state championship football team looks like by honoring the 1990 and ‘91 teams at halftime Friday night.
The current crop of Bulldogs didn’t hold up the tradition nearly as well against a bigger, stronger rival in a 42-14 loss to Strom Thurmond.
A year after Silver Bluff suffered its worst loss in the rivalry on the road, the Bulldogs once again failed to keep up with the Rebels’ offense. Strom Thurmond, which jumped up to Class AAA this season, has now won five of the last six meetings with Class AA Silver Bluff.
“We knew this was the best team we were going to play. We’re not going to play anybody better than that,” Bulldogs coach Al Lown said. “They’re better than us, and they showed it tonight. I said coming into the game we’re a good (Class) AA team, they’re a great (Class) AAA team, and that’s it.”
Strom Thurmond scored three touchdowns before Silver Bluff could muster a first down, and the Bulldogs never threatened.
Quarterback Javeer Hammond found receiver Ty Brooks five times for 118 yards and a touchdown before halftime.
“Ty is a dynamic player,” Javeer Hammond said. “I know when I need something I can depend on Ty.”
With the passing threat established, Darius Hammond rushed for two of his three touchdowns in the first half to send the Rebels (4-1) into the locker room with a 28-7 halftime lead. The Strom Thurmond offense had 28 points and the defense had allowed just 26 total yards.
Sawyer credited nose guard Johntavious Jackson for leading a defensive effort that wasn’t fooled by the Bulldogs’ Wing-T offense.
“When we’ve been able to slow Silver Bluff down in the past it’s been nose play - when we’ve had real good nose guards,” Sawyer said. “I thought (Jackson) played great tonight.”
The only points production from the Bulldogs (4-1) in the first half came when Silver Bluff answered Strom Thurmond’s opening touchdown drive with an R.J. Stallings 89-yard kickoff return to tie the game at 7.
But one of six Silver Bluff fumbles was recovered by Strom Thurmond inside the 20, and the Rebels scored two plays later to reclaim the lead.
Lown said a right-handed center forced to snap left-handed due to injury led to the Bulldogs’ exchange problems.
Strom Thurmond added two more scores in the second half to seal its fourth consecutive win and hand Silver Bluff its first loss of the season.