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Strom Thurmond Rebels hold on for win over Aiken Hornets

Strom Thurmond 17, Aiken 10

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AIKEN — A new quarterback and a new coach produced a familiar result for Strom Thurmond on Friday night.

TEAM PAGE: Aiken Hornets

The winning outcome was just a bit closer than most expected.

Tyree Stidem scored his second touchdown of the night on a 13-yard keeper, and the visiting Rebels held on for a 17-10 victory over the Hornets at Hagood Stadium.

In a game that felt more like a late-season tilt than the sweltering season-opener that it was, the Class AA Rebels (1-0) ultimately made more big plays than the Class AAA Hornets (0-1).

A case in point came midway through the fourth quarter with the score tied.

Strom Thurmond forced an Aiken punt, and returned it to the Aiken 28. After a big run by Chad Gilchrist, Stidem found an opening up the middle and dashed into the end zone for the decisive score.

Aiken could do nothing on its next possession, but it could have gotten the ball back again. Instead, the Hornets had 12 men on the field as the Rebels lined up to punt. The penalty gave Strom Thurmond a first down.

“There’s no excuse for us to do that,” Aiken coach Brian Neal said. “That can’t happen.”

Stidem, a senior making his debut as the starting quarterback, said it felt good to get a win in the debut for him and coach Antwaun Hillary.

“They came at a time when I had to step up and make a play and I did it,” he said of his two scores.

On the game-winning score, Stidem credited his blockers.

“I got to give that to my O-line,” he said. “It was a big hole and it just opened up.”

Aiken played the visitors even through the first half. The Hornets struck first when the snap sailed high over Strom Thurmond punter Cole Fell’s head, and he chased it down in the end zone and stepped out of bounds for the safety.

Fell put Strom Thurmond ahead with a 22-yard field goal, and Stidem scored on a 3-yard quarterback keeper to lift the Rebels to a 10-2 lead.

Right before the half, though, Aiken covered 69 yards in six plays thanks to a strong passing game and two Strom Thurmond 15-yard penalties. Antwan Chandler slipped past two defenders and leaped high in the air to snag a 25-yard touchdown pass. Brayton Sanders ran up the middle for the conversion to tie it.

Despite the loss, Neal found a lot of positives for the Hornets.

“The effort was good,” he said. “We showed up. We got some breaks early and hung around. We’ve just got to learn to finish.”

STROM THURMOND 17, AIKEN 10

PLAY OF THE GAME: Tyree Stidem burst up the middle for 13 yards to score the game-winning touchdown for the Rebels.

STAR OF THE GAME: Strom Thurmond’s Stidem scored two touchdowns on the ground and rushed for 72 yards and threw for 168.

WHY STROM THURMOND WON: The Rebels came up with the big plays when they needed them.

WHY AIKEN LOST: The Hornets fought hard but untimely penalties late in the game kept them from getting the ball back.

NEXT: Strom Thurmond at Silver Bluff, Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m.; South Aiken at Aiken, Friday, 7:30.

Strom Thurmond 17, Aiken 10

Strom Thurmond 0 10 0 7 – 17

Aiken 2 8 0 0 – 10

First Quarter

A–Safety, punter runs out of end zone, 2:54

Second Quarter

ST–Cole Fell 22 FG, 8:43

ST–Tyree Stidem 3 run (Fell kick), 2:05

A–Antwan Chandler 25 pass from Bryson Jones (Brayton Sanders run), :31

Fourth Quarter

ST–Stidem 13 run (Fell kick), 5:24

 STA
First Downs1613
Rushes-Yards37-18842-99
Passing Yards168106
Comp.-Att.-Int.7-13-06-7-0
Fumbles-Lost1-11-1
Punts-Avg.1-445-39.4
Penalties-Yards11-1159-60


INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–Strom Thurmond: Tyree Stidem 14-72, Chad Gilchrist 11-42, Deandre Ryan 2-(-4), Deoin Chinn 6-41, Isreal Talbert 3-56. Aiken: Brayton Sanders 17-68, Terrell Lewis 8-3, Bryson Jones 15-26, Juwan Brown 1-3, Brycen Carolina 1-(-1).

PASSING–Strom Thurmond: Tyree Stidem 7-13-0 for 168. Aiken: Bryson Jones 6-7-0 for 106.

RECEIVING–Strom Thurmond: Padgett Sumner 2-26, Deandre Ryan 1-5, Chad Gilchrist2-54, Tyrece Nick 2-83. Aiken: Brycen Carolina 2-18, Devantae Gaiters 1-22, Quamayne Simpkins 1-20, Antwan Chandler 2-46.


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