COLUMBIA - Before Orangeburg-Wilkinson took a snap on offense Friday night at Harry Parone Stadium, it was already facing an uphill battle against undefeated Richland Northeast.
The Bruins arrived to the capital city knowing Elite 11 wide receiver Kintrell Disher would have to sit out after suffering a concussion the week before. Within the first five minutes, an already unfavorable atmosphere for the Homecoming opponent got worse as O-W fell behind 14-0 before its first possession and trailed as many as 15 after one quarter.
As the final seconds ticked away however, it was the Bruins fans who made the trip who were celebrating and the Cavaliers and their stunned fans standing in disbelief as O-W stormed back to claim a 48-34 victory.
Leading the comeback charge was quarterback Cyril Davis who turned the non-region game into a personal showcase. The senior Bruin managed to post personal game highs by completing 21 of 29 passes for 410 yards in surpassing the 2,000-yard plateau for the season to go with five touchdowns.
"He's as good as I've seen," RNE head coach Jay Frye said about Davis. "Of course, I always said Woodrow Dantzler was as good a football player as I've seen in this state, but this kid's special also.
"He's a good kid," Brown said about Davis. "He's a tough kid. He's a student of the game. He works hard. He believes in our receivers and he believes in our offense and I think he's put himself on the map as a good quarterback and nobody knows about him. But I think after this one, people are going to say ‘Who is this kid at O-W?' He's got good teammates that believe in him and we're just glad to have him."
Without Disher, the senior-laden supporting cast more than filled his prominent role. Leading the way was wide receiver Kevin Thomas who caught four touchdown passes totaling 161 yards. Roderick Davenport also played the role of dual threat with 135 total yards of offense and a touchdown.
Despite giving up heavy yards on the ground, the Bruins' defense stiffened late with two key turnovers to seal the victory.
RNE (4-1) took the opening drive nine plays for 58 yards capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Darius Paulk. O-W (5-1) then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting up an 18-yard run by quarterback A.C. Whaley on the very next play.
Once on the field, O-W's offense responded quickly with a score. After a 16-yard pass to Devohnte Thompson, Davis found a wide open Thomas in the middle of the field for a 37-yard touchdown to cut it to 14-6 with 5:25 left in the first quarter.
RNE continued to move the football against O-W, this time through the air. A 26-yard reception by Paulk set up a 4-yard keeper by Whaley to put the Cavaliers up 21-6 which still had Frye less than comfortable.
"You never feel like (you're ahead) with this bunch because you know they can score from anywhere on this field," he said. "We knew we pretty much had to score every time we touched it and unfortunately, that's impossible to do and I don't think they punted all night."
Despite starting the next series on their own 17 following a false start penalty, the Bruins still managed a swift scoring drive early in the second quarter. A 36-yard touchdown run by Davenport and two-point conversion pass by Davis brought O-W within 21-14.
Davis and Thomas hooked up again on a 4th and 15 touchdown pass from the RNE 33. Davenport ran in the 2-point conversion which gave O-W a 22-21 halftime advantage.
Thompson continued the O-W surge in the second half when he broke free 79 yards on the kickoff to the RNE 17. It took 12 plays and two Cavalier penalties which extended the drive before Patrick Graham coasted from a yard out to extend O-W's lead to 28-21 in the third quarter.
RNE then answered with a time-consuming scoring drive of its own, running the football 62 yards on nine plays before Whaley's 1-yard keeper to tie the game.
The game stayed deadlocked for only 50 seconds as Davis connected with Thomas again downfield for a 42-yard touchdown. Davis then completed the 2-point conversion to give the Bruins a 36-28 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
RNE's Paulk once again burned the Bruins with a 41-yard scoring run. However, the Bruins' defense prevented the two-point conversion to help maintain their lead.
Another fourth down conversion helped O-W seized control of the game. Facing a fourth-and-one at the RNE 49, Davis found a streaking Thomas who outraced two Cavalier defenders down the middle of the field for his fourth touchdown to make it 42-34.
"When one of us goes down, somebody has to step up," Davis said. "We're not trying to have any weak links and K.T. (Kevin Thomas) filled in big for us."
O-W's defense recovered an RNE fumble at its own 40. Four plays later, Jordan Turkvant snagged down a Davis pass enroute to a 18-yard touchdown with 7:10 remaining to give the Bruins a two-score cushion.
A forced fumble on Whaley by O-W allowed the offense to run out the remaining minutes to snap a four-game losing streak to the Cavaliers.
"We knew it would be a shootout," Frye said. "They turned into a shootout and I guess they outgunned us."
RNE - Paulk 3 run (PAT good) - 7:17
RNE - Whaley 18 run (PAT good) - 6:52
O-W - Thomas 37 pass from Davis (2-point conversion no good) - 5:25
RNE - Whaley 4 run (PAT good) - 1:22
O-W - Davenport 36 run (2-point conversion good) - 10:39
O-W - Thomas 33 pass from Davis (2-point conversion good) - 6:25
O-W - Graham 1 run (2-point conversion no good) - 6:18
RNE - Whaley 1 run (PAT good) - 1:50
O-W - Thomas 42 pass from Davis (2-point conversion good) - 1:00
RNE - Paulk 41 run (2-point conversion no good) - 11:59
O-W - Thomas 49 pass from Davis (2-point conversion no good) - 8:55
O-W - Turkvant 18 pass from Davis (2-point conversion no good) - 7:10
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