BARNWELL, S.C. -- Before Allendale-Fairfax could regroup, Barnwell had already run away with what was supposed to be a fight to the end for both squads in their Region 6-AA opener.
The War Horses jumped out to a commanding 27-point lead in the first half and went on to beat the Tigers 40-12 Friday night, silencing any doubts about their resurgence as a region power.
"I expected this to be a dogfight," Barnwell coach DeWayne Garrick said. "There is no way I expected to come out here and take this one as convincingly as we did. You have to give credit to our kids. They came out and played extremely well on both sides of the ball. Hopefully this is a marker for the rest of the season."
Both teams came in wanting to make a statement, but the overwhelmed Tigers barely got in a word against the tough War Horse defense. Barnwell (6-0, 1-0 Region 6-AA) came in having outscored its opponents 158-22.
Allendale-Fairfax, which fell to 4-2, failed to get any movement against Barnwell until the final drive of the second quarter. The Tigers' first three drives ended on downs, an interception and a fumble.
Tigers sophomore quarterback Eric Priester had little time to get loose in the first half before switching to a shotgun formation. He went 4-for-11 for 71 yards with an interception and a fumble in the opening half. Priester was sacked five times.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander, who threw for more than 1,400 yards as a freshman, was swarmed all night as the War Horses won the battle of the line of scrimmage. The younger brother of Clemson's career leading rusher, Raymond Priester, rebounded in the second half, finishing the game 9-of-22 for 218 yards.
Priester guided Allendale-Fairfax (4-2, 0-1 Region 6-AA) to two second-half touchdowns, but by then it was too late.
Meanwhile, Barnwell's offense had little trouble moving the ball as it scored on all four first-half possessions. Junior running back Marcus Williams cleared the 100-yard rushing mark for the fifth time this season, tallying 141 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. The 6-foot, 180-pounder has more than 800 yards rushing on the season.
"Marcus ran real well, but I think all of our backs did an exceptional job," Garrick said. "Both the offense and defensive lines played strong and solid. A lot of what happened tonight was sparked by them up front. Luckily we didn't have to throw the ball. Daniel can do whatever we need. Tonight he just ran the offense."
The War Horses opened the game at peak on offense, displaying both facets of their offensive prowess on the first three drives of the game. On the first drive of the night, Creech completed three of three pass attempts with the final 12-yard toss going for a touchdown to senior Orlando Rivera. Rivera also had two interceptions on the night.
That would be all the War Horses needed through the air as they turned to an efficient ground game the rest of the night.
After turning the Tigers over on downs, Barnwell decided to utilize its rushing game which featured a three-back attack with Williams, Alexis Walker and Derrick Cave. Behind a strong offensive line, Barnwell moved the ball effortlessly.
Williams' 2-yard touchdown plunge to start the second quarter capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive in which the three backs accounted for every yard. Williams added another 5-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter as Barnwell took a commanding 21-0 lead with 3:21 left before the half.
After Priester fumbled on the Tigers next possession, Trumaine Fredrick recovered for Barnwell at the Tigers 10. Walker ran in for a 6-yard score four plays later to put the War Horses ahead 27-0. Walker finished the game with 110 yards on 15 carries, including a 36-yard touchdown run to ice the game in the fourth.
Reach Patrick Green (803) 648-1395.