Big-play defense key to South Carolina’s victory

Trailing by six entering the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s Border Bowl V, Team South Carolina turned to its big-play defense.

 

South Carolina scored two defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Palmetto State standouts rallying in the fourth quarter for a 32-25 victory.

Strom Thurmond’s Tyrek Williams scored off a fumble recovery. North Augusta’s DeJuan Bell, the Defensive Player of the Game, scored on a 90-yard interception return. Strom Thurmond’s Jaquan Edwards snuffed out Team Georgia’s final drive with an interception.

“I think it’s just playing fast,” South Aiken linebacker Reid Bolen said. “We had the same stuff going on. It’s just learning responsibilities better.”

Georgia led 18-12 with 9:40 remaining and escaped out of the shadow of its end zone with a Chardell Hales pass to Ty King. Then, Bolen sacked Hales for a 10-yard loss. Nick Hughes of Bamberg-Ehrhardt followed with another sack of Hales, a 13-yard loss. Georgia’s Max Tyler later punted from his team’s 1-yard line. Five plays later, South Carolina tied the game on a Cody Boynton 7-yard swing pass to Will Sheehan.

“We split the ends out and brought backers underneath,” Bolen said of his team’s defensive scheme up front. “They were guessing a lot with that. And then we’d bring down and show on the outside, too. I don’t think the linemen understood what we were doing. And I think we were playing aggressively with the ends, and the nose guards were getting pressure.”

On Georgia’s next drive, Williams scooped up Javon Reid’s fumble, rumbling 25 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

After Georgia tied the game on its next possession, it looked like it would take the lead. Thomson’s Artest Banks picked off Boynton, Georgia starting from the South Carolina 25 with four minutes remaining. But Williams sacked Hale on second down, a 13-yard loss. On third and 25 from the 30, Bell picked off Hales at the 10. Bell then darted down the right sideline, cut left, juked a defender at the Georgia 30 and went the distance, his 90-yard score giving South Carolina the lead for good.

Georgia started its final drive near midfield. But on first and 15 with 1:46 remaining, Edwards intercepted a Mills Ridings pass. South Carolina ran out the clock.

“It’s an all-star game. Everybody is talented,” Edwards said. “You just had to make plays.”

 

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