Blythewood falls short in fourth

LAURENS – The Blythewood football team’s regular season ended on a low note, with Spring Valley topping the Bengals 42-21 to knock them back into an at-large bid in the upper state bracket of the Class 5A playoffs.

Blythewood may have backed into the postseason, but once at Laurens District 55’s K.C. Hanna Stadium, the Bengals played like champions.

The top-seeded Raiders came into Friday night’s game ready to dismiss the Bengals and move on to their second-round opponent, arch rival Byrnes. Instead, Blythewood made the upper state power grind it out just to escape with a 43-40 win over the Bengals.

Josh Strickland set school records in pass attempts and completions, going 32-for-52 and posting season high numbers in passing yards and touchdowns. He was intercepted twice, but finished the night with 468 yards and six TDs.

Strickland spread the ball to six receivers, with David Patten taking in 9 catches and a touchdown for 133 yards, Josh Burrell pulling in 6 catches for 124 yards and two scores, and Noble Cooper making three receptions for 105 yards and two TDs.

Laurens (9-1), which finished atop the Region 1-5A standings, used Louisville commit Duane Martin and a stable of other running backs to keep ahead of Blythewood (5-6).

The Raiders chewed up the ground to the tune of 461 rushing yards on 62 plays. Martin carried 26 times for 232 yards, four touchdowns and one 2-point conversion run. Ryan Campbell had 110 yards and a score on 19 carries.

Down 21-14 at halftime, Strickland found Brandon Edwards for a 10-yard touchdown past midway through the third quarter. The Bengals looked to tie the game up with that score, but Laurens blocked Jerry Finney’s point-after attempt.

That set up Blythewood’s and Laurens’ wild fourth-quarter finish.

Strickland put the Bengals in the lead briefly when he and Burrell connected for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 10:09 to play. Strickland’s 2-point conversion attempt failed, but Blythewood held a 26-21 lead on the Raiders.

Martin’s 41-yard score and conversion run just 30 seconds later erased that lead and put Laurens back up 29-26. Two minutes later Martin made it 36-26 with a 4-yard TD run.

Once again, Strickland led the Bengals on a 6-play, 76-yard scoring drive that he capped with a 35-yard TD pass to Cooper Noble with 6:05 to play. Strickland then tossed a conversion pass to Patten to cut Laurens’ lead to 36-34.

The Raiders’ rushing attack responded once again, this time with Campbell rushing 27 yards for a score with 5:14 left to make it 43-34.

The Bengals fired off a 90-yard drive in seven plays in just 2:14 off the clock, and Strickland found Patten for a 40-yard TD play to make it 43-40 with three minutes to play.

Blythewood hoped to get the ball back but couldn’t make a stop. Laurens held possession until time—and the Bengals’ season—expired.

Laurens (9-1) plays No.2 seed Byrnes (10-1) Friday.

BHS – 7-7-6-20 – 40

Laurens – 7-14-0-22 – 43

First Quarter

L –Duane Martin 42 run (Jesus Esparza kick) 8:56

B – Josh Burrell 34 pass from Josh Strickland (Jerry Finney kick) 1:02

Second Quarter

L  – Martin 14 run (Esparza kick) 7:46

L – Jordan Woodruff 3 run (Esparza kick) 4:46

B – Noble Cooper 11 pass from Strickland (Finney kick)1:18

Third Quarter            

B – Brandon Edwards 10 pass from Strickland (kick blocked) 6:13

Fourth Quarter

B – Burrell 28 pass from Strickland (pass failed)10:09

L – Martin 41 run (Martin Run) 9:38

L – Martin 4 run (Esparza kick) 7:11

B – Noble Cooper 35 pass from Strickland (David Patten pass from Strickland) 6:05

L – Ryan Campbell 27 run (Esparza kick) 5:14

B – Patten 40 pass from Strickland (pass failed) 3:00

                                               BHS                Laurens

First Downs                          26                   27

Rushes-Yards                     18-54            62-461

Passing Yards                     468                 71

Att-Com-Int                        52-32-2        12-3-0

Fumbles-Lost                      3-1                 4-3

Penalties-Yards                 10-65            7-31

Punts-Avg.                          3-40.7           2-34.0          

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Blythewood – Brandon Edwards 6-38, Aamir Washington  4-13, Dhani Dixon 3-8, Josh Strickland 5-(-5). Laurens – Duane Martin 26-232, Ryan Campbell 19-110, Zy Todd 3-34, Jordan Woodrruff 7-29, Jeremiah Fuller 2-23, Jackson Mahon 2-21, Walker 1-8, Jayden McGowan 1-5, TEAM 1-(-1).

PASSING: Blythewood – Josh Strickland 32-52-2-468. Lugoff-Elgin – Ryan Campbell 2-9-0-41, TEAM 0-2-0-0, James Rawl 1-1-0-30.

RECEIVING: Blythewood – David Patten 9-133, Brandon Edwards 7-60, Josh Burrell 6-124, Noble Cooper 5-102, Chase Smith 4-42, Aamir Washington 1-7. Laurens – Ryan Campbell 1-30, Jayden McGowan 1-30, Tyrese Thompson 1-11.