ANDERSON, S.C. — Same teams, same late drama.
T.L. Hanna took state power North Augusta to the wire for the second time in three years only to fall short again.
T.L. Hanna took another lead to the locker room. But senior quarterback Cody Turner and running back DeVonte Pressley led North Augusta back with two early third quarter touchdowns in a 19-14 victory Friday at Yellow Jacket Memorial Stadium.
Turner was just 10 for 26 for 196 yards with two interceptions. However, he led North Augusta (1-0) down the field for a quick strike after the second half kickoff – Willie McCloud finished it off with a 1-yard score and the extra point was missed – and another on its next possession.
Pressley rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns, including the one that gave his team the lead for good and the feeling that they dodged a bullet.
“You look at all the bad stuff that happened in the first half and then look into their eyes now and see that sigh of relief,” North Augusta coach Dan Pippin said. “They stepped up and did what they had to do. And, that’s really something.”
This was exactly the atmosphere Pippin wanted when he scheduled T.L. Hanna for the opener. Having lost the past two years in the state semifinals on the road, the victory is something that can be looked back upon later in the season.
“This was tough,” Pippin said. “I’m going to say to them, ‘Remember when we road two and a half hours on that hot bus and came here and won.’ That makes this trip worth it.”
It was reminiscent of T.L. Hanna’s trip two years ago to North Augusta in which it surrendered a 14-point halftime lead with a trip to the Class AAAA Upper State finals on the line.
As much as another loss stings, T.L. Hanna coach Kenya Fouch saw his squad stand toe to toe with a top-10 program even after coming off a 3-8 2011 season.
“We still have to make the plays in crucial moments, but this bunch of guys showed me something tonight,” Fouch said.
T.L. Hanna quarterback Dom Catalfomo passed for 164 yards and was at his best early. He opened the season with touchdown drives of 85 and 73 yards, capped by Ben Boulware and Deon Williams runs to put them up 14-7.
On both drives, the coaching staff gambled on fourth down and won.
It was the three picks that burned Catalfomo, who is in his first and only year as the starting signal caller, from the second quarter on.
With a chance to push the lead to 14 points in the second quarter he tossed an errant pass that was picked off by a diving Trey Morgan in the end zone.
Hanna’s defense gave Catalfomo three chances late in the fourth to win it. The Jackets turned the ball over on downs twice and D.J. Young picked off a long throw down the sidelines to end the threat.