WILLISTON, S.C. -- Despite having the odds and a capacity crowd in their favor, the Williston-Elko Blue Devils failed to knock off Barnwell on Thursday night, losing 15-7 on two fatal miscues late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 9-7 with 6 minutes, 53 seconds to play, the Blue Devils' Lee Dicks bobbled a Barnwell punt, giving the War Horses possession at the 19-yard line. Three plays later, facing a 3rd-and-4, Barnwell drew Williston offsides for the automatic first down.
Junior quarterback Daniel Creech nailed Josh Pierce in the back of the end zone for the 15-7 lead with 4:50 left. Justin Williams ended any Blue Devils hope with an interception of a Terry Martin pass with 1:45 left.
"We were sky high coming in, and everybody played hard," Blue Devils coach Charlie Combs said. "We made some key mistakes. That one at the opening of the game, and we couldn't get a hold of Creech. This was a great way to start the season and we think we'll be fine in Class A."
The first quarter saw senior running back Brian Williams open the game with a fumble, turning the ball over to Barnwell at Williston's 23-yard line. Williams' blunder was one of six fumbles by both teams in the first half.
After the recovery, the War Horses stood at the 3-yard line, staring a 4th-and-1. First-year head coach Dwayne Garrick's first tough call as coach was a wise one. The War Horses went for it: Senior Terrence Brodus rolled through the line for the score and put the Horses up 6-0 early.
On the Blue Devils' next drive, the 5-foot-7, 145-pound Williams ripped through the line for a 7-yard gain. And after quarterback Terry Martin connected with Keith Creech for a 21-yard, first-down pass, Williams ended the march with a 20-yard sprint down the sideline for the score. Kurtis Kennedy's extra point gave the Blue Devils a 7-6 lead.
Williams finished with 143 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries.
Barnwell's Creech began his journey in the footsteps of Marcus Robinson with a solid performance, completing 9-of-12 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, both to David Gleaton.
The 6-3, 185-pounder also made his presence felt on defense by robbing a Martin pass on the Blue Devils' 5-yard line with Williston in scoring position.
After Creech's 45-yard bomb on 3rd-and-17, kicker Jay Harvey launched a 42-yard field goal to give Barnwell a 9-7 lead going into halftime.
"Our kids from Day 1 thought they were going to win this ballgame," Garrick said. "Our kids aren't in shape, but I'm proud of the way they stepped up and made plays. We couldn't stop Williams and that's something we need to work on, too."