AIKEN — Everyone knew South Aiken quarterback Bo Baldwin could throw the football.
Not many knew that he could run, though.
Baldwin was effective in both facets of the game Friday night as the Thoroughbreds defeated rival Aiken 28-21 at Hagood Stadium.
South Aiken (2-9, 2-3 in Region 5-AAAA) awaits its playoff fate. With White Knoll’s victory over Lexington, the Thoroughbreds will find out this morning if they qualify for an at-large bid. Aiken fell to 2-9 and 0-5 in the region and will not make the playoffs.
Baldwin, a lanky junior who has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons, set the tone early.
Facing third-and-long on the opening drive, Baldwin was flushed from the pocket. He scrambled to his right, broke to the sideline and ran untouched into the end zone to give South Aiken the early advantage.
“We had a long yardage play and our receivers took their corners deep, and their backers bit,” Baldwin said. “I’m sure the last thing they were expecting was me to run. I just went upfield and took it, and it was green grass. Great blocks by Will Holbrook and DeAndre Schoultz. It just worked out great.”
Damion Brown found the end zone twice in the second quarter for South Aiken as the Thoroughbreds took a 21-14 lead at intermission. His first score was on a 4-yard run, then he followed that with a 38-yard burst down the sideline that he punctuated with a flip into the end zone.
Aiken quarterback Leon Simmons kept the Hornets in the game with a pair of scoring runs. The first came on an 8-yard run up the middle. The second was a bit longer, 78 yards, but started with Simmons finding room up the middle and outracing the Thoroughbreds to the end zone.
While the first half was full of scoring, the second half was a defensive struggle. South Aiken pushed its lead to 28-14 early in the fourth quarter on Adam Allen’s 1-yard run, but Aiken fought back with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Simmons to Deshone Blocker.
South Aiken got the ball back and was able to run the clock out thanks to an Aiken penalty and a scrambling run by Baldwin.
“Bo can run. Everyone’s always questioning his toughness,” South Aiken coach Jeremy West said. “He’s a tough kid, he’s just got bad luck. He runs the ball well. We know he can do it.”
The victory was South Aiken’s first against Aiken since 2007. The Thoroughbreds and their fans rushed the field as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“I expected to win, but beating Aiken High is not something that really happens around South Aiken. It’s just great to be a part of it, it’s a feeling I can’t really describe right now,” Baldwin said.