The Region 5-AA foes – separated by about 30 miles on Highway 278 – have a long history of fierce battles. Regular-season wins are sweet, and victories in the postseason even more so.
The Bulldogs used a strong rushing attack to eliminate their rivals, 28-0, in the second round of the Class AA Division II playoffs Friday night at The Bluff.
Silver Bluff defeated Barnwell 33-16 in the regular-season finale two weeks ago. The Bulldogs (10-1) received a first-round bye in the playoffs, while Barnwell (3-9) knocked off North Charleston 45-20 in the opening round.
Silver Bluff’s concerns about playing a team twice in one season, especially a rival, proved unfounded.
“Especially understanding they had some momentum at the end of the year,” Silver Bluff coach Al Lown said. “If they had been a team that had given up ... but give credit to coach (Ed) Moore, they played hard tonight.
“It’s always good to beat Barnwell,” Lown said.
Silver Bluff jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead. After Barnwell attempted an onside kick to begin the game, the Bulldogs took over on their 37 and went downfield without much trouble. Shaquez Wright scored the touchdown on a 9-yard run.
Things didn’t get better for the Warhorses. After picking up a first down, Barnwell fumbled and Silver Bluff’s Jalen Douse recovered. Jaylen Lawrence rolled 38 yards on the next play for the score.
Two possessions later, Silver Bluff pushed the lead to 21-0 thanks to a 33-yard scamper by Wright.
Lawrence scored on a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter for the game’s final score.
Silver Bluff used a stout defense that forced four turnovers and held the Warhorses to zero passing yards.
Douse, who also intercepted a pass in addition to his fumble recovery, credited his teammates.
“All we wanted to do was win,” he said. “It took a team effort to do it.”
It was almost a repeat of last year’s scenario when Silver Bluff defeated Barnwell 28-27 in overtime to end the season, then beat the Warhorses 17-0 in the second round of the playoffs.
After losing their season opener to Strom Thurmond, the Bulldogs have now won 10 games in a row. Up next is a home playoff game against Woodland.
“It was a pretty solid win for us, and that’s what we needed,” Lown said.