ROCK HILL --
The Rock Hill Bearcats executed the perfect hook-and-ladder with Jaleel Scott and Jau’Quan Feaster for a 92-yard go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of Friday’s Class 4A-Region 3 contest at District Three Stadium.
Well, almost perfect. While the Rock Hill sideline celebrated, Nation Ford coach Michael Allen kept his eyes back toward the line of scrimmage.
“I was looking for flags,” Allen said. “Fortunately we got one.”
The Bearcats were penalized for having an illegal man downfield, and Andrew Bruce clinched the Falcons’ 20-14 win with an interception four plays later. Nation Ford (7-2, 4-1) defeated Rock Hill (2-7, 1-4) for the first time in school history.
Bruce also provided the go-ahead touchdown on a fumble recovery with 4:11 remaining. The Bearcats were doomed by three fourth-quarter turnovers.
“We had the two fumbles,” Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery said. “You can’t turn the ball over like that and expect to win. Other than that, our defense played great.”
So did Rock Hill running back Jonathan Adams, who ripped off two runs for 47 yards to start the game. Josh Erby finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Scott. Adams had 93 of his 121 rushing yards in the first quarter.
The Falcons answered on their opening drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Kenny Settle. The Bearcats took advantage of a bad punt snap by Nation Ford with another nine-yard touchdown pass from Erby to Scott. Rock Hill made that 14-7 lead stand at half.
Nation Ford opened the second half with a heavy dose of running back Daniel Jackson, who rushed nine times for 65 yards but fumbled at the goal line, which was recovered by Rock Hill’s D’Angelio Nash. Jackson atoned on Nation Ford’s first possession of the fourth quarter with a 42-yard run that set the Falcons up with a first-and-goal, but the Rock Hill defense held and Sayveon Howard blocked a 31-yard field-goal attempt.
Nation Ford’s Josh Driscoll recovered a fumble on the next play from scrimmage, however. Falcons quarterback Dalton Helms converted a fourth-and-eight with an 18-yard pass to A.K. McCoy, and Jackson finally scored on a five-yard run to knot the score at 14 with 4:55 left. Jackson finished with 25 carries for 165 yards.
“The running game was the key for us,” Allen said. “We found every way possible to shoot ourselves in the leg. Much like last week against York, the running game really put us over the top.”
The Bearcats fumbled again on their next play from scrimmage, which Bruce recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. That set up the frenetic final possession four minutes later.
“We’re a second-half team and that showed,” Bruce said. “Our defense came together tonight. It was awesome.”
NATION FORD 20, ROCK HILL 14
RH-Josh Erby 10 pass to Jaleel Scott (Harrison Dixon kick)
NF-Kenny Settle 1 run (Corey Condron kick)
RH-Erby 9 pass to Scott (Dixon kick)
NF-Daniel Jackson 5 run (Condron kick)
NF-Andrew Bruce fumble recovery in end zone (Kick failed)
RUSHING — NATION FORD: Jackson 25-165, A.K. McCoy 2-52, Helms 4-21, Andrew Barr 8-14, Settle 1-1. ROCK HILL: Jonathan Adams 17-121, Erby 8-35, Jau’Quan Feaster 1-1.
PASSING — NATION FORD: Helms 17-26-0, 127 yards. ROCK HILL: Erby 10-23-2, 91 yards.
RECEIVING — NATION FORD: McCoy 12-112, Riley Hilton 1-9, Jackson 2-3, Barr 2-3. ROCK HILL: Scott 5-50, Malik Crawford 3-22, Adams 1-13, Tre Thompson 1-6.
RECORDS: Nation Ford 7-2 (4-1), Rock Hill 2-7, 1-4.