NORWAY — Hunter-Kinard-Tyler head coach Dann Holland is looking for a few Trojans who don’t mind standing out in a large crowd — and a historic one at that.
With a victory over visiting Ridge Spring-Monetta on Friday, Holland’s team would have the opportunity to win a second-round state playoff game, something the school has never done. First things first, they needed to handle business against the Trojans from Aiken County.
And in that they wasted little time, scoring on the game’s second play from scrimmage and never looking back en route to a dominating 42-22 home victory that sets up the Trojans with a home game next week against Calhoun Falls.
Following an outstanding effort from his team on both sides of the ball, opportunity is knocking.
“We’ve challenged the players to want to be someone different,” Holland said after the game. “We want them to do something that’s never been done and to be a part of history. In the history of this school there have only been three playoff wins (all in the first round). We wanted to have the opportunity to be the first team to win a second-round playoff game and we have that.
Against Ridge Spring-Monetta, Holland said they took what was given to their offense by the opposing defense — with a little spice thrown in in the form of some amazing tipped balls that ended up in the hands of H-K-T receivers.
“The Lord shone down on us a little bit tonight, but our guys made plays and in the playoffs you have to play defense and make plays and we did that tonight,” he said. “We are normally a bit undersized up front, but those guys are getting better every week.”
Offensively, for H-K-T, quarterback Donnie Edwards passed for 169 yards, while running back Brandon Hart added 83 yards on the ground. On defense, Devante Fulmer led the team with 12 tackles, while TyKeil Wade and Marion Bell each had 10 stops.
The home-standing H-K-T Trojans dominated the opening half of play with a balanced attack off the arm of quarterback Donnie Edwards and the legs of senior running back Brandon Hart.
Hart opened the scoring on just the second play of the football game, running off of right tackle before making a pair of nice open field moves to find the end zone after 52 yards. The conversion run failed and Hunter-Kinard-Tyler led 6-0 with 11:17 left in the first quarter. Ridge Spring-Monetta’s Bra’Quon Preston recovered a fumble later in the quarter to give the visitors a spark, but Heath Corley’s offense could do nothing with the ball and punted.
The punt resulted in a short field for H-K-T and the Trojans drove 58 yards in nine plays before Hart drove in from the one to put his team up 12-0 with 3:51 left in the opening quarter after the conversion failed again. The big play in the drive came through the air as Edwards went downfield 28 yards for D’Andre Walker, who juggled the ball before hauling it in inside the 20.
Hunter-Kinard-Tyler kept up the pressure in the second quarter with more aerial acrobatics.
This time Edwards reached 38 yards downfield for 6-foot-2-inch junior receiver Breshawn Fields. A Ridge Spring-Monetta defender appeared to have a bead on the football, but miss-timed his jump just enough to allow the ball to clear his arms and reach Fields inside the 10. And two plays later Edwards found a wide open Hart in the back of the end zone for an 18-0 lead with 10:57 left until the half.
But just like they did a week ago on the road at Wagener-Salley, the Ridge Spring-Monetta Trojans fought back. Finally catching a break in field position with a short field starting inside H-K-T Territory at the 38, RS-M made it count in driving to score in nine plays on a run in from the 3 by Raheem Caldwell with 3:32 to go until the half. And unlike H-K-T, Ridge Spring-Monetta cashed in on the two-point conversion run by Reggie Preston to cut the margin to 18-8.
A personal foul penalty on H-K-T also aided the effort for Ridge Spring-Monetta.
That left Hunter-Kinard-Tyler needing to respond, which they did in thrilling fashion through the air, mirroring earlier possessions. This time it would be Hart who would provide the air show – extending his right arm over a RS-M defender and tapping the ball to himself before he hit the ground for a first down inside the 20.
Edwards would stay in the air, finding freshman Darius Hammonds good for a 14-yard score that extended the lead to 26-8 after the Trojans finally converted a conversion on an Edwards pass to Marion Bell that recaptured the momentum in the game for good.
RSM 0 8 0 16 – 22
HKT 12 14 16 0 – 42
HKT — Brandon Hart 52 run (run failed), 11:17.
HKT — Hart 1 run (kick failed), 3:51.
HKT — Hart 6 pass from Donnie Edwards (run failed), 10:57.
RSM — Raheem Caldwell 3 run (Reggie Preston run), 3:32.
HKT — Darius Hammonds 14 pass from Edwards (Marion Bell pass from Edwards), 1:14.
HKT — Tykeil Wade 38 run (D’Andre Walker pass from Edwards), 11:47.
HKT — Wade 27 run (Darius Hammonds pass from Edwards), 3:45.
RSM — Craig Burton 55 run (run failed), 6:10.
RSM — Burton 27 run (Tee Lockett pass from Matt McGee), :52.5.