Griffins Dodge Weather, Mid-Carolina

Mid-Carolina’s Jhi’quan Wright breaks up a pass in the end zone to Shadarius Hopkins. (Photo/Joe Seibles)

Fairfield Central-7, Mid-Carolina-0

WINNSBORO – It was rainy. It was cold. And it was far from pretty. But the Fairfield Central Griffins eked out a 7-0 win Friday over the Mid-Carolina Rebels to wrap up a perfect 6-0 region record and put themselves in position to potentially earn a top seed in the Class 2A, Division I playoffs.

Nick Rikard broke a scoreless defensive slugfest with 7:28 left in the game, taking the handoff from Stanley McManus on the end-around and banging into the soggy end zone. Isias Leon’s point-after kick was true, in spite of a high snap to McManus on the hold, and the Griffin defense held off three ensuing Rebel runs at a rally for the final.

The game was delayed not once but twice by lightning strikes in the area, pushing the opening kick from 7:30 to 9:17 p.m. Once play finally began so did the rain, and the two 2-A Region III offenses crashed against the opposing defenses for nearly 41 full minutes in a muddy quagmire on homecoming night.

“Those two delays and it being homecoming didn’t really have a bearing on our focus,” Griffin head coach Demetrius Davis said. “Mid-Carolina played their butts off tonight and really exposed us in some places. We were really struggling from the word go.”

The Griffins had an opportunity to draw first blood early, after Dunstan Padgett recovered a Dee Lindler fumble at the Mid-Carolina 39 with 6:33 to go in the first quarter. A pair of Joe Young carries guided the Griffins to the Rebel 20 and McManus hit Shadarius Hopkins with a rocket at the Rebel 5 to set up first-and-goal. But the Rebel defense and a holding penalty pushed the Griffins back to the 12 where the threat perished.

The Rebels had a similar sniff of the end zone in the second after Mackenzie Flemon picked off a McManus pass near mid-field and returned it to the Fairfield 45 with 10:34 left in the half. Mid-Carolina’s Rashon Graham hammed away to the Griffin 24 and Lindler got them to the 7. On third-and-2, Stone’s pass to Graham was just shy of the first down, and on fourth down the Fairfield defense flipped Lindler for a 2-yard loss.

The worm finally turned late in the third quarter when Josh Bell fielded a punt by Mid-Carolina’s Jesus Reyes at the Griffin 10 and blasted his way to the 47, setting up what would prove to be the game-winning drive. As the quarter expired, Young, who rushed for 106 yards on 25 carries, had pushed the Griffins to the Rebel 41.

Young was thrown for a loss on the first carry of the final period, but made up for it on his next effort, plowing to the Rebel 38. Young then took a McManus pass to the 33, but fell 2 yards shy of the first down. On the quarterback keeper, McManus clawed his way to the 31. It was too close to call, and the chains came out. The drive would live or die on the spot of the ball.

Had the ball contained perhaps a single ounce less of air, the Rebels would once again have thwarted Fairfield’s attack; but by just one dimple in the pigskin, it was first-and-10.

“Football is a game of inches,” Davis said. “If we don’t get that first down there, I don’t know if we win this game.”

McManus carried it three more times to the Mid-Carolina 18, then hit Hopkins at the 9. Young bulled ahead to the 5, setting up Rikard’s sweeping run on first-and-goal.

 

MC: 0-0-0-0 – 0

FC: 0-0-0-7 – 7

Scoring

Fourth Quarter

FC – Nick Rikard 5 run (Isias Leon kick). 7:28.

 

Team Stats

                                                MC                                         FC

First Downs                        9                                              15

Rushes/Yards                    29-94                                     44-172

Passing Yards                     39                                           111

C-A-I                                  8-21-1                                   9-13-1

Fumbles/Lost                    1-1                                          3-3

Penalties/Yards                 1-5                                          6-43

 

Individual Stats

RUSHING: MC – Corey Stone 5-7, Rashon Graham 13-37, Dee Lindler 11-50. FC – Joseph Young 25-106, Stanley McManus 12-26, Byron Sampson 2-4, Markell Whitaker 1-(-5), Chad Sampson 1-14, Josh Bell 1-6, Nick Rikard 2-21.

RECEIVING: MC – Demarcus Robinson 2-23, Dee Lindler 4-10, Mackenzie Flemon 2-6. FC – Shadarius Hopkins 4-41, Markell Whitaker 2-34, Nick Rikard 1-21, Joseph Young 2-15.

PASSING: MC – Corey Stone 8-21, 39 yards, INT. FC – Stanley McManus 9-13, 11 yards, INT.

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