AIKEN — Bo Baldwin threw two touchdown passes, and Damien Brown ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run as South Aiken crushed Richland Northeast, 40-12, in the opener for both football teams.
The real star of Friday night’s victory, however, was the Thoroughbreds’ defensive unit.
A year after surrendering 28 or more points nine times – all losses – South Aiken bottled up Richland Northeast, allowing just 102 yards of total offense.
“The defense did well,” South Aiken coach Jeremy West said. “You don’t ever want to give up points, but for most of the night we held them in check.”
South Aiken led 14-0 at halftime, but a couple of miscues let the Cavaliers (0-1) back into the game in the third quarter. Richland Northeast blocked a punt and returned a fumble to set up short scoring drives.
South Aiken responded by scoring 26 unanswered points to close out the game.
“In years past we might have lost this one,” West said. “But they gathered themselves and Coach (Ted) Cain did a good job of settling the offense down.”
South Aiken (1-0) now has a two-game winning streak dating back to last year’s season-ending win against Aiken.
South Aiken sprinted to a 14-0 lead with touchdowns on its first two possessions.
Baldwin found Adam Allen on a screen pass, and the speedy back took it 53 yards for the score.
Then, after penalties backed the Thoroughbreds up near their own goal, South Aiken got a first down and some breathing room. Brown then busted his long scoring run on a draw play as he outraced the Cavaliers’ defense.
South Aiken’s Matt Albertson faked a punt from his own 43 late in the half, but was tackled for a loss. However, the South Aiken defense held once again.
West said it wasn’t a designed play.
“He had some success last year on that rugby style, but we’ll work on that for next week,” West said. “It won’t happen again.”
Brown’s kickoff return to the 2 set up a Baldwin sneak for a touchdown in the third quarter, and then Richland Northeast bobbled the snap on a punt on its next possession to give the Thoroughbreds good field position again. Allen scored from 9 yards out on the next play.
South Aiken closed the scoring with a Baldwin touchdown pass to Jordan Scott and a 22-yard run by Allen.
“It was good to extend (the lead) back out,” West said. “It showed some maturity we haven’t had in the past.”