NORTH AUGUSTA — Emotions from a defensive dogfight led to more after one of the area’s games of the year Friday night.
North Augusta scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to top South Aiken 21-7 at the Jackets Nest in one of the most anticipated games of the area’s high school season.
Emotions ran high throughout the game, including many personal fouls and two scuffles in the first half. After a quiet second half, the intensity spilled over with a postgame brawl following the handshake. Punches were thrown before the two sides were separated.
The ugly finish marred a thrilling game on the field in which the two sides fought back and forth with major defensive stops, three interceptions from North Augusta’s DeJuan Bell and two key scores late.
The fourth-ranked Yellow Jackets (8-0, 2-0 Region Region 4-AAAA) avenged a 10-point loss from a year ago and immediately became the region front-runner. The fifth-ranked Thoroughbreds (6-2, 1-1), who reached the state semifinals last season, face the prospect of less than a No. 1 seed entering the playoffs.
After entering the fourth quarter tied at 7, North Augusta found a window with a 35-yard strike from Landon Washington to Kashaun Johnson. Washington eventually found the end zone on a 5-yard run for a 14-7 lead with 8:51 left.
After Bell’s third interception, the Yellow Jackets turned to Derius Gibson to put it away. On fourth and one with 26 seconds left, Gibson broke free for a 24-yard touchdown dagger and 21-7 lead.
The two star running backs thrived for each side. Gibson totaled 160 yards on 32 carries, while South Aiken’s Chris Roberts had 26 rushes for 135 yards.
In a game billed as a potential high-scoring affair, the two defenses found the spotlight. Bell picked off star South Aiken quarterback Cody Boynton three times as North Augusta repeatedly picked up big stops. South Aiken also fared well on defense until running out of gas in the fourth.
North Augusta scored first on a 2-yard touchdown run by Washington with 57 seconds left in the first quarter. South Aiken started a drive at the North Augusta 14 at one point in the second because of two personal fouls, but the Thoroughbreds were stuffed, and a 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked.