NORTH AUGUSTA – North Augusta quarterback Trib Reece pump faked, looked down field and saw Dre Dunbar standing alone down the sideline.
Reece hit Dunbar on a long touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to give North Augusta some much needed breathing room in a 27-20 win over Strom Thurmond on Friday night.
In a game featuring standing-room-only crowds on both sides of the stadium and elevated emotions on the field, it was the calm touch on two of Reece’s touchdown passes that made a difference for North Augusta (6-0) in what was a battle of quarterbacks.
Reece found Dunbar on a screen pass that led to 35 yards and a touchdown, giving the Yellow Jackets a 27-13 lead early in the fourth.
“We threw that screen (to Dunbar) all night, and they bit hard on it,” Reece said. “I hit Dre and he turned on the burners.”
The junior quarterback also hit Keyon West on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds left in the first half to give North Augusta a 13-0 lead. West laid out for the diving catch over his shoulder to haul it in.
“I put it where he could catch it,” Reece said. “I have to give credit to my offensive line. They were great.”
Reece went 15 for 20 for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Strom Thurmond (4-1) quarterback Jauveer Hammond accounted for 344 yards of offense, with 229 coming through the air. The senior took things into his own hands in the second half to lead the Rebels to a third-quarter comeback that resulted in a tie late in the quarter.
With the game tied at 13, North Augusta took the lead for the final time with 2:20 left in the third on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Tyler Sheehan. The Yellow Jackets fumbled the ball away at the goal line, but Sheehan was there to pick it up.
Reece’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Dunbar with 7:18 left in the fourth gave the Yellow Jacketsa bit of space. It was needed, as Hammond led Strom Thurmond back down the field, resulting in a touchdown pass with 2:05 remaining to cut the lead to seven.
North Augusta then secured the onside kick attempt from Strom Thurmond and closed out the game.
The Yellow Jackets defense was on the field for much of thecontest, as Strom Thurmond pounded out 432 yards of offense. But North Augusta picked up several key stops – three times on fourth down – when it needed them.
“It was bend, don’t break,” coach Dan Pippin said. “Strom Thurmond has a great offense, and Hammond is one of the best players we’ve seen here. We had to put pressure on him.”