PETTICOAT JUNCTION — The signature moment in most Silver Bluff victories usually comes from its high-powered offense.
But Friday night against Woodland, it was the Bulldogs’ defense that came up with a series of clutch plays early.
The end result was a 35-12 victory and a berth in the Class AA Division II Lower State finals.
With the Bulldogs up 7-0 thanks to Myles Corbitt’s 7-yard run, Silver Bluff forced a punt and had good field position. But the Bulldogs fumbled and Woodland returned it to the Silver Bluff 4.
Two running plays produced zero yards, and a potential touchdown pass on third down fell incomplete.
On fourth down, Woodland quarterback Drake Knight dumped a pass off to Brandon Smith. He was immediately wrapped up by Tarron Jackson.
The scoring threat was over, and Silver Bluff didn’t look back.
“That was huge. That was some momentum for us,” linebacker James Jacks said. “We just buckled down there and the defense played a great game tonight.”
The Bulldogs (11-1) added touchdown runs by DeAngilo Drayton and RJ Stallings as they took a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Stallings and Drayton added scores in the second half, and Silver Bluff’s defense extended its scoreless streak to seven quarters in the playoffs.
The Wolverines (10-2) finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on Knight’s 1-yard sneak, but it was too little too late. Woodland added a late touchdown against Silver Bluff’s reserves.
Silver Bluff coach Al Lown agreed that the early defensive stand was huge.
“They’ve been working hard,” he said. “The coaches put them in good positions, we’re well prepared and I think playing some of those teams with good quarterbacks early (Midland Valley, Strom Thurmond, Edisto) has helped us against teams like this.”
Up next is Bamberg-Ehrhardt, which knocked off Bishop England 27-20. Silver Bluff lost in the Lower State finals the past two seasons to Bishop England, but the Bulldogs won’t get a shot at revenge.
“I’m not disappointed,” Lown said. “I’m just glad we’re playing right now.”