Dawggone: Newberry K-O’s Griffins in Semifinals

Stanley McManus (10) is brought down by the Newberry defense. (Photo/Joe Seibles)

Newberry-16, Fairfield Central-3

WINNSBORO – It had been 42 days since the Griffins of Fairfield Central last faced down the snarl and drool of the Newberry Bulldogs, and back on Oct. 10 it was all Fairfield Central, who ran roughshod over Newberry, taking the bite out of the Dogs on their home turf and locking up command of Region III with a 33-8 win.

What a difference 42 days can make.

Fresh off their shocking, come from behind 42-28 win on the road over second-seeded Woodruff last week, Newberry proved themselves once again to be not only the Road Dogs Friday night, but the Big Dogs, and the Big Dogs came to eat, devouring the top-seeded Griffins 16-3 in the Class 2A/Division 1 Upper State Championship.

“They couldn’t have played a better football game. They got after us tonight,” Griffins head coach Demetrius Davis said. “I knew those guys were going to come back here and play a tough football game. And we just didn’t really play good. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to make the plays.”

Not only did the Griffins not make the big plays, they didn’t make a lot of plays of any caliber. The offense spent much of the game on the sidelines, watching the Griffin defense struggle for a solution to Newberry’s grinding ground assault. The Griffin offense was on the field long enough to rush the ball 26 times for 79 yards and throw 13 passes. Sophomore quarterback Stanley McManus completed four for 102 yards, including a 46-yarder to Nick Rikard on the Griffins’ first play from scrimmage with 9:52 left in the opening frame.

Rikard’s grab took the Griffins down to the Newberry 23, but from there the offense could only get as close as the Newberry 12 before Isias Leon came in on fourth-and-goal to bang home a 30-yard field goal with 4:49 left in the quarter.

The Griffin defense held the Dogs at bay through the first quarter, forcing punts on Newberry’s first two possessions, but their offensive counterparts could give them little support. The defense made the 3-0 lead stand up, however, until the final 22 seconds of the half when Bryan Guevara chipped in a 27-yard boot to tie the game.

The kick polished off a punishing Newberry drive that consumed 71 yards and drained the clock of 10 minutes and 31 seconds.

Fairfield took the opening possession of the third quarter at their own 30, but stalled out after just three plays at their own 39. Facing a fourth-and-1, and with the better part of two quarters left to play, Davis tried to steal a little momentum, going for the yardage instead of punting the ball away to the clock-killing Newberry offense. But the Newberry defense smothered the gamble, throwing McManus for a loss on the quarterback keeper and taking over on downs.

“That one call we had on that fourth down call, that might have been something I shouldn’t have done,” Davis reflected after the game, “but it was fourth-and-inches. I figured we could have got it.”

The Dogs made Fairfield pay, and pay dearly, for it, using just four plays to jam it into the end zone on a 20-yard blast by Xizabian Sims Boyd. The point-after by Guevara put Newberry up 10-3 with 8:56 left in the third, and the momentum had indeed shifted.

The Griffins did themselves no favors on the ensuing kick, fumbling the catch at their own 30. Newberry’s Amir Abrams recovered and the Dogs were in business again. Four plays later, Khalil Sheppard drove it home from 11 yards out. The point-after kick went wide, but the Bulldogs had taken a 16-3 lead and with it the wind from the sails of the Griffins.

“Momentum is key in these kinds of games,” Davis said. “The one thing you’ve got to be able to do in the playoffs is you got to be able to run the ball and you’ve got to be able to stop the ball, and I don’t think we did either one tonight.”

The Griffins had opportunities, although few and far between. On their next possession, Fairfield clawed their way from their own 38 down to the Newberry 12. With a little more than 3 minutes left on the third quarter clock and facing a fourth-and-9, Davis again elected to forgo the field goal that might have cut the lead to 16-6 and roll the dice. But McManus’s pass to Rikard in the end zone was batted away and the Dogs took over on downs once more.

“I didn’t think (a field goal) would help us then,” Davis said. “We were down two scores. I didn’t think a field goal was going to help us, because we weren’t really doing anything to keep them off the field. I needed 7. I felt like if I could have got 7 there, then we would be able to get a stop and have a chance to get 7 more. It just wasn’t our night.”

The Griffins finish the season at 11-2. Newberry, meanwhile, earned the right to move on to face Dillon in next week’s State Championship game at River Bluff High School. Dillon edged out Loris in the Lower State bracket Friday, 37-20.

“They had a great game plan, they executed their game plan, they played good football tonight,” Davis said. “They deserve to go. My hat’s off to them and I hope they go win it.”

 

NHS: 0-3-13-0 – 16

FCHS: 3-0-0-0 – 3

 

Scoring

First Quarter

FC – Isias Leon 30 FG. 4:49

Second Quarter

N – Bryan Guevara 27 FG. 0:22.

Third Quarter

N – X. Sims Boyd 20 run (B. Guevara kick). 8:56.

N – Khalil Sheppard 11 run (kick failed). 7:15.

 

Team Stats

                                                NHS                                       FCHS

First Downs                        19                                           10

Rushes/Yards                    63-323                                   26-79

Passing Yards                     11                                           102

C-A-I                                    2-2-0                                      4-13-1

Fumbles/Lost                    0-0                                          2-1

Penalties/Yards                 10-85                                     2-25

 

Individual Stats

RUSHING: N – Omar Sims 21-111, Khalil Sheppard 3-15, Yafari Werts 16-47, Chris Wadsworth 12-78, K.J. Fields 2-5, X. Sims Boyd 9-67. FC – Joseph Young 18-68, Stanley McManus 4-7, Josh Bell 1-0, Jerrell Suber-O’Neal 2-8, Shadarius Hopkins 1-(-4).

RECEIVING: N – Khalil Sheppard 2-11. FC – Nick Rikard 1-46, Joseph Young 1-12, Markell Whitaker 1-20, Shadarius Hopkins 1-24.

PASSING: N – Yafari Werts 2-2, 11 yards. FC – Stanley McManus 4-13, 1-2 yards, INT.

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