Hammond’s 12-yard run set up a Chad Gilchrist go-ahead touchdown with 1 minute remaining, giving Strom Thurmond a 34-27 win Friday night.
The Rebels earned their ninth region title in 10 years with the win, including two in a row in Region 5-AAA. For the second consecutive season, Strom Thurmond’s region championship came in a win over Midland Valley.
“We lost so many seniors to graduation last year,” Rebels coach Lee Sawyer said. “To put themselves in this position, this is the one I’m most proud of, because no one expected them to be here.”
Tied at 27 with 3 minutes left, Hammond led the Rebels (9-1, 5-0 Region 5-AAA) down the field with relative ease. The drive’s first spark came on a 35-yard pass to Kendall Hill.
Hammond set up the go-ahead score when he eluded several Mustang defenders for a 12-yard run to the goal line. Gilchrist followed by pounding it in for a go-ahead touchdown.
“The last drive was will and determination,” Hammond said. “My offensive line stepped up and we felt we couldn’t be stopped.”
The entire game was a battle between Hammond and Midland Valley’s Daniel Carr.
Hammond collected 243 yards of total offense, including 121 on the ground. Carr had 219 total yards, including 175 through the air.
Carr scrambled for yardage in the backfield before finding receiver Kameron Brown on deep prayers. The two hooked up seven times for 116 yards, and Brown totaled four touchdowns.
“Carr has me out of breath,” Sawyer said. “What a performance by those two. You have to tip your hat to them.”
After an opening touchdown by the Mustangs (6-4, 3-2), the Rebels answered on their first possession when Hammond hit Deandre Ryan on a 17-yard TD pass.
Midland Valley scored two second-quarter touchdowns via the Carr-Brown duo. Strom Thurmond added a score on a 19-yard run by Hammond to keep it within seven points at halftime.
Consecutive touchdowns by the Rebels in the third quarter gave them their first lead since the opening minute of the second.
Carr’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 8:43 left in the game tied it at 27.
“It was just a great football game,” Sawyer said. “Both teams played hard. I’m so proud of them.”