NORTH AUGUSTA – Every time Nation Ford scored, North Augusta had an answer.
What the Falcons didn’t have an answer for? DeVonte Pressley.
Behind a dominant offensive line, the North Augusta running back shredded the Nation Ford defense for 262 yards and the Yellow Jackets pulled free for a 43-29 win in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs on Friday night.
Pressley rushed 43 times and added a pair of touchdowns.
“I felt real good running the ball,” he said. “I’ve got an excellent offensive line.”
Quarterback Trib Reece added: “DeVonte did an excellent job. He carried the team on his back.”
North Augusta (9-3) bounced back from last week’s loss at Dutch Fork in a game for the Region 5-AAAA title. In that contest, the Yellow Jackets were held to their fewest points (21) since a loss to Valdosta on Sept. 1.
Against Nation Ford, North Augusta rolled up 451 yards. Reece threw for 139 yards, while Trey Morgan caught six passes for 71 yards and added another 22 yards rushing.
“I thought the offensive line responded well after we didn’t respond that well last week,” Yellow Jackets coach Dan Pippin said. “I thought there were some things we could do that they gave us. I was happy we took advantage of that.”
North Augusta opened the game with a 76-yard scoring drive. The Yellow Jackets posted touchdowns on four of their first five drives to take a commanding 27-7 lead.
Nation Ford, led by quarterback Dalton Helms (20 for 35 passing, 333 yards) tried to match North Augusta yard for yard. But the Falcons (7-5) turned the ball over three times.
Defensive lineman Cameron Hampton intercepted Helms at the 11-yard line late in the first half to preserve a 20-point lead entering intermission.
Down 20 early in the fourth quarter, Nation Ford drove inside the North Augusta 5. But Andre Barr fumbled, and the Yellow Jackets recovered at the 1.
NORTH AUGUSTA 43, NATION FORD 29
PLAY OF THE GAME: North Augusta defensive lineman Cameron Hampton intercepted Dalton Helms at the 11-yard line to prevent the Falcons from cutting into the Yellow Jackets’ 27-7 lead just before halftime.
STAR OF THE GAME: North Augusta’s Devonte Pressley recorded 262 rushing yards on 42 carries with two touchdowns.
WHY NORTH AUGUSTA WON: Offensive line dominated.
Why Nation Ford lost: Falcons committed three turnovers, a no-no in postseason football.
NEXT: North Augusta at Greenwood, 7:30 p.m., Friday.
NORTH AUGUSTA 43, NATION FORD 29
Nation Ford 7 0 14 8 – 29
North Augusta 14 13 7 9 – 43
NA–DeVonte Pressley 5 run (Dylan Davis kick), 6:09
NF–A.K. McCory 60 pass from Dalton Helms (Corey Condron kick), 5:09
NA–Pressley 46 run (Davis kick), 2:02
NA–Trey Morgan 6 run (Davis kick), 7:33
NA–Devin Grimes 29 pass from Trib Reece (Davis kick), 4:42
NF–Daniel Jackson 1 run (Condron kick), 8:26
NA–Morgan 27 pass from Reece (Davis kick), 6:52
NF–Jackson 4 run (Condron kick), 3:40
NA–Willie McCloud 4 run (Davis kick), 10:54
NA–Safety, Helms sacked in the end zone, 5:37
NF–Dijuan Ussery 36 pass from Helms (Hank Tuipulotu pass from Helms), 1:41
RUSHING–Nation Ford: Daniel Jackson 9-33, Dalton Helms 7-21, Andrew Barr 4-13, Kenny Settle 1-1, Will Visbeck 1-0, Riley Hilton 1-(-3). North Augusta: DeVonte Pressley 43-262, Trey Morgan 5-22, Trib Reece 3-8, Willie McCloud 3-20.
PASSING–Nation Ford: Helms 20-35-1 333. North Augusta: Reece 12-25-2 139.
RECEIVING–Nation Ford: Dijuan Ussery 8-149, Barr 2-41, Ian Blakely 1-8, A.K. McCory 2-63, Tyler Howington 4-44, Hilton 2-13, Dylan Yagle 1-15. North Augusta: Morgan 6-71, Devin Grimes 4-51, Dre Dunbar 1-10, McCloud 1-7.