BAMBERG — Don’t call it a comeback if you see the Red Raiders over the next couple of days.
On second thought, you’d have to. Trailing 18-0 with 8:49 to play against Woodland, Bamberg-Ehrhardt needed to make a lot happen in a little bit of time if they had any intention of remaining alive in the Class 2-A playoffs ... and they did.
The Red Raiders scored three unanswered touchdowns in the final eight minutes of play to come away with a 21-18 win over the Wolverines.
“It’s really satisfying,” B-E quarterback Sumner Cooler said. “When we were down 18-0 with seven minutes to go, all I was thinking was get the ball down the field. Don’t make any mistakes. Get your offense up. I had a speech for every player. Every time I got in the huddle, I had a speech. I knew my offensive line had faith in me. I just knew that, if it came down to it, I had to get the ball to my boy KC (Crosby). He’s a playmaker.”
With both offenses failing to find the end zone in the opening quarter, Woodland (9-3) put the first points of the night on the board.
Thanks to a 90-yard double pass from Dakeem Hanton to Herbert Johnson, the Wolverines took a 6-0 lead with 10:07 left in the half.
“I told the kids, ‘If you keep us close, we’ll throw everything we have at them’,” Woodland head coach Mathis Burnette said. “That’s one thing we’ve had in our book and it’s been open before. Dakeem threw it great and Herbert caught it right in his hands. They just did a great job.”
Bamberg-Ehrhardt (10-1) made their way down the field in their final possession of the half with Cooler finding KC Crosby for receptions of 45 and 36 yards, respectively, putting the Red Raiders inside the Woodland 10-yard line. Unfortunately for B-E, the Wolverines defense stood tall, forcing Cooler to fumble on a third-and-goal play with 27 seconds left in the half.
The Wolverines made things tougher for B-E with 4:01 to go in the third quarter. Despite a tough effort by the Red Raiders, Michael Delee connected with Eric Carn on a 12-yard pass for another Wolverine touchdown, making it 12-0.
“Eric’s been great for us,” Burnette said. “He’s an unsung hero. He plays tight end. He plays outside linebacker. He plays all kinds of stuff. Tonight, he found a way to get open.”
Carn came calling again in the fourth quarter with 8:49 to go. The senior tight end caught his second scoring pass from Delee from 33 yards out, putting his team up 18-0 and silencing the Bamberg crowd.
But the Red Raiders wasted little time taking momentum away from the Wolverines. Opting to go away from their signature smashmouth running game, Crosby and the B-E coaching staff put the ball in the hands of Cooler, who did not disappoint. The junior quarterback led the Red Raiders on a 41-yard drive that ended with him sneaking into the end zone behind his offensive line, making it 18-7.
Cooler and the Raiders weren’t done. On their next possession, Garrett Zeigler was the recipient of another Cooler pass. The 35-yard completion energized the B-E fans and cut the Woodland lead to 18-14.
“We did a good job of fighting in there and hanging in there,” B-E head coach Butch Crosby said. “They gave us some things and I thought we threw the ball well there at the end. KC, Landon Sandifer and Garrett Zeigler ... all of those guys, they played a vital role in that comeback. Up front, we were blocking and they were blitzing. They were coming from every frappin’ where, but they hung in there and did a great job.”
With everything going their way, the Red Raider defense came up with a key three-and-out with 2:20 to go, putting the ball back in Cooler’s hand with a hungry Elite 11 selection wanting the ball.
“Get me the ball,” Crosby demanded with just over two minutes left to play.
Eventually, they did.
On first-and-10 with less than a minute on the clock, Cooler dropped back to pass. Without a heavy blitz pestering him, Cooler tossed the ball in Crosby’s direction with Laquan White defending. Both players reached for the ball at the highest point, but Crosby was able to deflect it away from White and come down with what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
“I told Coach I wanted the ball,” the younger Crosby said. “It was crunch time and I did it once before last year against Edisto. So, I just told Coach to get the ball to 3. That’s what I wanted.”
The win sets up a region rematch between the Red Raiders and top-seeded Silver Bluff and that’s something that the Red Raiders are looking forward to. For now, however, they’re going to savor this victory.
“This is what we live for,” KC Crosby said. “We don’t live for the blowouts. We live for the close ones.”
WHS — Johnson 90 pass from Hanton (kick failed), 10:07
WHS — Carn 12 pass from Delee (run failed), 4:01
WHS — Carn 33 pass from Delee (pass failed), 8:49
B-E — Cooler 1 run (Maxwell kick), 7:02
B-E — Zeigler 35 pass from Cooler (Maxwell kick), 4:05
B-E — Crosby 40 pass from Cooler (Maxwell kick), :44
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