Orangeburg Prep head coach Adam Holmes gave final instructions to his team before they took the field just before the fourth quarter began.
Before he let them go, Holmes made one final request.
“Finish,” he said.
Needing no motivation after that, the Indians’ defense went out and forced two Laurence Manning turnovers in the final 12 minutes on their way to securing a 28-6 win during Homecoming.
“We knew we didn’t prove ourselves very well last week,” OPS junior defensive lineman Charlie Sutcliffe said. “We knew we had a lot to make up because we don’t allow 42 points. That’s just not us. We proved it tonight.”
OPS struggled early on to move the football in the opening quarter posting just 22 yards against the Swampcats. However, Laurence Manning didn’t fare much better accruing 34 yards against the Indians to start the game.
The second quarter saw the first points of the night with 8:47 to go. Marion McCurry tossed the first of his two touchdown passes of the night to Nick Garrick finishing off a 12-play, 52-yard drive. The 11-yard pass was followed by Hunter Pickens making it a 7-0 game in favor of OPS.
Laurence Manning (4-4, 3-4) responded on their next possession. J.T. Eppley orchestrated a 14-play series for the Swampcats that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Drake Hutson. Despite the score, Laurence Manning wasn’t able to come away with the ensuing 2-point conversion and the Indians remained ahead 7-6.
In the third quarter, the Indians (5-3, 4-2) employed a run-heavy strategy against the Swampcats defense. Thanks to big runs by Michael Pascoe in Orangeburg Prep’s opening series of the second half, the Indians found themselves inside the red zone. That’s where McCurry took over. The 6-2, 170-pound junior found Reed Grubbs in the end zone from 18 yards out pushing the Indians lead to 14-6 with 9:05 to go in the quarter.
“Marion did a good job for us tonight,” Holmes said. “Reed got hurt early on and we brought Marion in and he went 3-0 as a starter. So, we’ve kind of had a quarterback battle going back and forth. We just decided to go with Marion this week and it worked out. He did a great job for us and, obviously when you put Reed on the field, he makes that spectacular catch in the end zone. So, he brings another threat to the field with Derek (Andrews) on the other side.”
McCurry came calling again on OP’s next possession. Following a failed fake punt attempt by Laurence Manning, he, along with Cameron Thompson and Pascoe ran right at the Swampcats defense moving up the short field. McCurry finally scored to end the 10-play drive on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 making it 21-6.
As Orangeburg Prep continued to pull away on offense, the defense continued to hold the Swampcats at bay. Led by Charlie Sutcliffe, Matthew Berry and Dakota Way, the Indians defense held the Swampcats to 31 total yards on offense in the second half.
“We had to bounce back,” Indians senior defensive end Matthew Berry said. “We had a lot to prove. This group’s been consistent all year and, last week, we just slipped up. We had to prove ourselves tonight.”
McCurry added the Indians’ final score with 8:04 following a fumble recovery by Sutcliffe with a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Indians won’t have much time to celebrate the win as they begin preparing for their contest for a home contest against Ben Lippen next week. With the chance to finish as the second seed heading into the playoffs, Holmes and the Indians will look to “finish” next week and the remainder of the season.
“That is our theme,” Holmes said when asked about finishing. “We kind of hold our own destiny in hand. If we finish the season out like we’re supposed to, we’re a two-seed and we’d have playoffs (at home) all the way throughout. But obviously, we’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
OPS — Garrick 11 pass from McCurry (Pickens kick), 8:47
LMA — Hutson 5 run (pass failed), 3:24
OPS — Grubbs 18 pass from McCurry (Pickens kick), 9:05
OPS — McCurry 1 run (Pickens kick), 1:28
OPS — McCurry 4 run (Pickens kick), 8:04