Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Middle School Football Review: Full Story and Highlights from Spirit Creek's Comeback Win against Pine Hill, and Highlights from Evans Middle's Win against Grovetown

Javaris Harris (Spirit Creek) scored 3 touchdowns in Tuesday's win.

Spirit Creek overcame a 12 point second half deficit by scoring 14 unanswered in the final 9 minutes of Tuesday's Richmond County middle school game to defeat Pine Hill 28-26 at Cross Creek High School. After fullback Telly Johnson reached the end zone to cut the deficit to 26-20 with 27 seconds remaining in the third quarter, running back Javaris Harris scored the touchdown that clinched the victory on fourth and goal from Pine Hill's 5 yard line on a sweep around the right end.

Harris scored three touchdowns in the game, including one right before halftime on a kick off return that reduced Pine Hill's lead to 14-8, and another on the first play from scrimmage of the second half to tie the game at 14.

"That kid is special," Spirit Creek coach Michael Collins said about Harris after the game. "He came to us this year from Tutt. And he's phenomenal."

Harris's first two touchdowns came during a dizzying stretch of play in which the teams scored a combined five touchdowns, three by Pine Hill and two by Spirit Creek, while only 3 minutes and 32 seconds ticked off the clock. The scoring spree began when Pine Hill quarterback Xavier Goss rolled right and hit tight end DeShaun Jones in stride. Jones ran almost the entire length of the field to score an 80 yard touchdown and put Pine Hill ahead 14-2 with 1:29 left in the second quarter.

Pine Hill's Xavier Goss readies for the snap. Goss threw two 80 yard TD passes Tuesday.

Harris immediately answered with a touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff and a 50 yard touchdown run on a direct snap on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter to tie the game at 14.

Then it was Pine Hill's turn to respond quickly when SyQuan Mack ran 65 yards for his second touchdown of the game to establish a 20-14 lead for the Panthers. And after Pine Hill's Jonathan Underwood recovered a fumble by Harris on Spirit Creek's next series, Goss again rolled right and hit Jones in stride on the exact same pattern as before for another 80 yard touchdown reception that gave the Panthers a 26-14 lead with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter.

Spirit Creek's comeback was powered in part by a pair of drive extending completions between quarterback Kenneth Medlock and receiver Antwain Hendrieth. Hendrieth leapt high into the air to grab the ball and then wrestle it away from a defender for a key first down late in the third quarter. And he adjusted to an under-thrown and wobbly pass to make a key catch that created a first-and-goal opportunity for the Dolphins on the deciding drive.

Antwain Hendrieth (Spirit Creek) made two key receptions in the second half.

The comeback was completed when Ahsean McCladdie recovered a Pine Hill fumble with just over 3 minutes remaining, allowing Spirit Creek to run out the clock after Harris and Telly Johnson each converted a first down on offense. McCladdie also recorded a tackle for a safety in the second quarter.

"It just took a lot of determination, a lot of grit," coach Collins said when asked how his team was able to come back from a 12 point deficit twice and eventually win the game. "Our players stuck together and fought, and we had great coaching from our staff."

With the win, Spirit Creek improved to 3-0 for the season, and Pine Hill fell to 1-1-1.

Evans Middle starts 5-0 in Columbia County league

Evans Middle improved to 5-0 in the Columbia County league with a win over Harlem Tuesday to follow up on last week's 14-0 victory over Grovetown Middle (highlights above). Grovetown stands in second place with a 4-1 record.

Zyaire Douglas (Evans) snagged an interception in the win over Grovetown last week.

Quarterback Noah Story rushed for two touchdowns in the win over Grovetown. The Knights dominated the matchup, possessing the ball for the great majority of the game while only allowing Grovetown's offense into Evans' half of the field once, and only for a brief period.

Middle School Playoff Dates

Columbia County will be the first league to play its championship game on Tuesday, October 8.

Brenden Reynolds (Evans)
The leagues that include the middle schools in the area's outlying counties will play their semifinal round on Wednesday, October 9, and their championship game a week later on October 16.

Cervantes Felts (Thomson)
Richmond County's semifinal round will also take place on October 16, and the championship game will be held the following Tuesday, October 22.

Finally, the private school finals will be Thursday, October 24, and Aiken County will have its champion decided on October 30.

Kennedy Middle's Druw Kirkland (8), Demario Saxon (3) and Carlos Ponce (2)

AugBball will cover as much of the championship rounds, and as much of the regular season games leading up to them, as scheduling will allow.

Links to recent middle school and JV football coverage

Evans Middle improves to 2-0 with 34-0 win over Greenbrier

Jefferson County JV tops Thomson after a fourth quarter comeback

Story, highlights, pictures and interviews from Kennedy Middle's comeback against Silver Bluff as well as a round up of middle school ball from around the area

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