Dogs Douse Griffins’ Title Hopes

Stanley McManus (10) races toward the end zone for the lone Griffins touchdown of the night. (Photo/Joe Seibles)

Stanley McManus (10) races toward the end zone for the lone Griffins touchdown of the night. (Photo/Joe Seibles)

WINNSBORO – The last time the Fairfield Central Griffins stared down the Newberry Bulldogs, the Bulldogs blinked. And for the first 12 scoreless minutes of Friday night’s Class 2A/Division 1 upper state title game, fans at E.K. McLendon Stadium appeared to be in for a repeat of the Oct. 9 classic that the Griffins survived 29-27.

But the next 12 minutes set a different tone as Shrine Bowl athlete Yafari Werts led the Dogs to a 10-0 halftime lead, en route to a 24-10 victory and a date with Dillon in this Friday’s championship match.

“They (Newberry) did about what they did last time (on Oct. 9),” Griffins head coach Demetrius Davis said. “We made more plays last time, and tonight we didn’t quite make those plays. Then we’d make a play and get a stupid penalty.  We just didn’t play smart football tonight, but penalties are part of the game.”

Indeed, after forcing Newberry to punt from its side of the field on the first Dogs’ possession, the Griffins penetrated as far as the Newberry 29 before a penalty and a huge Newberry sack of quarterback Stanley McManus pushed the Griffins back to midfield. It would be the last time the Griffins would touch the ball in the opening frame.

Werts and the Dogs took over on their own 22 with 4:42 remaining in the first and began chipping away. Running back Amir Abrams, whom the Griffins held to 82 yards on the night, still inflicted the damage of an M1A2 Abrams tank when it counted, propelling Newberry to the Griffin 24 and a third-and-inches when the clock expired.

On the very first play of the second quarter, Werts delivered a stinger to Kaleb Rosemond for the opening points of the game. Miguel Luviano chipped in the point after and the Dogs were up 7-0 with 11:54 left in the half.

The Griffins were without the explosiveness of sophomore running back Tony Ruff, who suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over Woodruff. That left the ground game almost entirely to McManus and Jerrell Suber-O’Neal, with a handful of runs distributed to Chad Sampson and “Doctor” Zchivago Herndon.

“I knew this was going to be a tough game,” Davis said. “We didn’t have Tony Ruff tonight. That would have helped us a little bit. We missed him a lot.”

The Bulldogs settled for a field goal late in the half as the Griffins put up a stout goal-line stand for the third week in a row, stifling Newberry at the 6-yard line. Luviano’s 23-yarder gave the Dogs a 10-0 advantage at the break.

The Dogs put up a stand of their own when the Griffins took the second half kick at their 13 and drove relentlessly to the Newberry 4. The drive was ignited by an end-around blast from Herndon who raced to the Newberry 27 on the first play, but another poorly timed penalty spotted the ball back at the Fairfield 36.

When the Dogs held on third-and-goal, Austin Gregory nailed a 27-yarder to cut the Newberry lead to 10-3 with 8:45 left in the third.

But any momentum the Griffins might have enjoyed was quickly dashed when, on the second snap after the ensuing kick, Werts sizzled a 55-yarder to Zyearrious Towns for what would amount to the winning score. Luviano’s PAT made it 17-3 Dogs with 7:58 on the third quarter clock.

The Griffins finally found the end zone when McManus gashed his way in from 29 yards out with 4:19 left in the third. The run capped an 84-yard drive that consumed a little more than 3 and a half minutes of game time. Gregory’s kick trimmed things down to a manageable 17-10, but the Griffins would get no closer.

Newberry added the dagger with 5:12 left in the game when Werts found Towns once more, this time from 17-yards out. The drive swallowed up 82 yards and drained 5:23 from the game clock.

“These kids played their butts off,” Davis said. “Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose. That’s a good football team over there (Newberry). We’ve won a lot of games like this, and sometimes you’ve got to lose one.”

The Griffins finish their last season in Class 2A at 11-2. Next year, in the newly realigned Class 3A, the Griffins will compete against Camden, Chester, Columbia and Indian Land in Region IV.

 

NHS: 0-10-7-7 – 24

FC: 0-0-10-0 – 10

 

Second Quarter

N – K. Rosemond 24 pass from Yafari Werts (M. Luviano kick). 11:54.

N – M. Luviano 23 FG. 0:40.

Third Quarter

FC – Austin Gregory 27 FG. 8:45.

N – Z. Towns 55 pass from Y. Werts (M. Luviano kick). 7:58.

FC – Stanley McManus 29 run (A. Gregory kick). 4:19.

Fourth Quarter

N – Z. Towns 17 pass from Y. Werts (M. Luviano kick). 5:12.

 

Team Stats

N                                             FC

First Downs                        14                                           16

Rushes-Yards                     37-120                                   32-116

Passing Yards                     128                                         182

C-A-INT                              9-12-0                                   15-25-0

Fumbles-Lost                     1-0                                          0-0

Penalties-Yards                 5-55                                       5-55

 

Individual Stats

RUSHING: N – Amir Abrams 21-81, Yafari Werts 13-36, Chris Wadsworth 3-3. F – Jerrell Suber-O’Neal 14-58, Stanley McManus 13-21, Zchivago Herndon 2-24, Chad Sampson 3-13.

PASSING: N – Yafari Werts 9-12, 128 yards, 3 TDs. F – Stanley McManus 15-25, 182 yards.

RECEIVING: N – Z. Towns 6-82, Z. Riley 1-7, K. Rosemond 1-24, S. Williams 1-15. F – Raekwon Butler 3-61, Qua’terrious Thompson 3-39, Zchivago Herndon 3-41, Chad Sampson 3-22, Josh Bell 1-1, Roderick Sparks 2-18.