NORWAY, S.C. — As fans surrounded and congratulated Hunter-Kinard-Tyler players, head coach Dann Holland asked for the boisterous crowd to quiet down so that he could address the team one final time.
Before he did, he looked to the back of the huddled mass and saw someone who needed to be recognized.
“I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Ridge Spring-Monetta,” Holland said. “They had a great game plan and they executed it very well.”
Trailing by as many as 10 points, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler battled back to defeat region foe Ridge Spring-Monetta 20-19 to win the Upper State title and earn a spot in next week’s Class A Division II title game.
Hunter-Kinard-Tyler (11-2) didn’t wait long to get on the board. After getting the ball at their 45-yard line, Jarius Jenkins rushed for 16 yards to get the homestanding Trojans into Ridge Spring territory. The next play saw Darius Hammonds take a Khaliq Anthony pass 39 yards for the first points of the night making it 6-0 with 11:32 left in the first quarter.
Ridge Spring-Monetta (7-6) marched down the field in 12 plays before being faced with a fourth-and-goal situation from the Hunter-Kinard-Tyler 7-yard line, and the Trojans eventually scored.
Carlos Fernandez’s second field goal of the night pushed Ridge Spring-Monetta’s lead to 19-12 with 2:10 to go.
After two incomplete passes, Khaliq Anthony threw the ball deep hoping to connect with one of his receivers. Instead, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler was the benefactor of a defensive pass interference call putting the ball on their 35. The game seemed to be over as Bedenbaugh snatched Anthony’s pass out of the air, but a roughing the passer call gave Hunter-Kinard-Tyler new life. Anthony’s final pass of the night proved to be the most important as he hit Walter Edwards on a 5-yard slant making it 19-18. Jenkins barreled into the end zone for the 2-point conversion.