Coach Phil Strickland's Indians sent the Reservation out in style with their 32nd consecutive home play-off win and ended Byrnes 17 consecutive play-off game winning streak. The win was also Gaffney's 20th straight. Coach Strickland said after the game "I'm real proud of the team, they hung together."
The Rebels got on the scoreboard first, when they went 90-yards in 8 plays all on the ground to take the lead 7-0. Willy Korn scored on a dazzling 46-yard touchdown run. As Korn sprinted left looking to throw the ball, Gaffney's J.B. Shippy put pressure on Korn. Korn stopped cut back across the field and raced down the right sideline for the touchdown.
Defense was the theme of the first half. Byrnes "Strike Force" defense came up big twice when the offense failed to convert on two fourth down tries. The first gave Gaffney a 1st down at the Byrnes 38 and the second gave Gaffney a 1st down at the Byrnes 45. Both times the "Strike Force" forced the Indians into a three and out. The "Strike Force" held the Indians to 2 first downs and only 36- yards of total offense.
Mean while the Indians defense held the Rebels passing attack to 29-yards in the first half. LB J.B. Shippy came up with the big play of the half for the Indians. He sliced through the line and blocked a Byrnes punt. As he tried to pick the ball up on the run, he fumbled it forward. The ball eventually rolled out the back of the end zone for a safety.
The score at the half was 7-2 Rebels. As the teams headed off for half time, the game was eerily similar to the year's first match.
The third quarter was the Tyson Petty show as he fielded the second half kick-off at his 3-yard line and went 97-yards untouched for a touchdown. The key to the return was the wedge blockers as they opened up a big hole and Petty shoot through it. Coach Strickland said, " Our special teams played well."
The Indians went for 2 and did not make it, Indians 8-7.
The Rebels took over on their 29-yard line and marched 68-yards to reclaim the lead 10-8, on 21-yard field goal by Cam Miller. The key to the drive was 2 big completions from Willy Korn to Xavier Dye, 33 and 25-yards.
However, the Rebels were unable to score a touchdown after having a first and goal at the Gaffney 2-yard line. The Indians, on their next possession, faced a 2nd and 12 from their own 23-yard line. When Malcolm Long dropped back and hit Tyson Petty in stride on a post pattern for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Jeremiah Cochran smashed in for the 2-point conversion and Gaffney went on top for good at 16-10.
The Rebels closed the gap to 16-13 on a 30-yard Cam Miller field. The Rebels had to settle for the field goal because on third and goal from the Indian 6-yard line, an apparent touchdown pass from Korn to Deonte Gist was nullified by a penalty. A frustrated Coach Bentley said " Penalties and special teams mistakes killed us."
With 8 minutes to go in the game, the Rebels had the ball on their own 24-yard line. Three plays later they were on the Gaffney 9-yard line. A dead ball personal foul pushed the ball back to the Gaffney 24-yard line. From the 24, Korn looked to pass and his throw was picked-off by Kendrick Tate in the end zone. This was the only turnover of the night. This was also Brynes last real chance to pull out the win.
After the teams traded punts, Gaffney had the ball at their own 20-yard line with 3:44 on the clock. The Rebels never saw the ball again as a running attack that had been held in check all night pounded out 2 first downs and sent the Indians into state semi-finals.
The Byrnes "Strike Force" defense limited the Indians to 235 total yards and only one touchdown. Stanley Hunter, Chris Deihl and Scott McNichols led a fantastic defensive effort.
Offensively, Willy Korn was 20-30 for 232 yards with 1 interception and rushed 22 times for 94-yards. Xavier Dye had 11 catches for 141 yards and Deonte Gist rushed for 68-yards and had 5 receptions for 57-yards.
The Gaffney defense held the Rebels to 6-points on three possessions inside the Gaffney 25-yard line. J.B. Shippy played like a man on a mission and everywhere Willy went J.B. was there. Kendrick Tate had the pick in the end zone and all night Romeo Adams and Grayson Gentry put pressure on the quarterback.
Coach Strickland "Our defense played wonderful and our offense came through when they had to, I'm real proud."