PETTICOAT JUNCTION -- The two-time defending Class 2-A state champions from Silver Bluff got a good dose of what they'd used to punish opponents the past three years as seventh-ranked Edisto brought a stiff challenge from Cordova in a top 10 battle Friday night.
But the Bulldogs still gave as good as they got and capitalized on an assortment of damaging Cougar mistakes and miscues to defeat Edisto 33-20 at Bulldog Stadium.
Trailing in the third quarter by a mere five points at 19-14 with 5:47 left in the period, the Cougars stopped the Bulldogs, forcing a Silver Bluff punt. But Edisto breathed new life right back into the Silver Bluff offense by roughing the punter, handing the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs. Robert Kelly picked up 20 yards on the next play, pushing deep into Cougar territory and four plays later Bulldog quarterback Tyrone Smith crossed the goal line on a sneak to put Silver Bluff up 26-14.
"We had a couple of plays there where we needed to stop them and we just didn't do it," Cougar coach Andy Palmer said. "We're going to walk out of here with our heads held high. We're a good football team that's getting ready to bust out of the gate."
It was a tale of opposites the entire contest with Silver Bluff dominating the clock with long scoring drives, while the Cougars were able to score on quick strikes using vastly superior speed.
The third-ranked Bulldogs (1-1) amassed 378 yards of offense to the Cougars' 310. Of the Bulldog total, 290 yards came on the ground. The Cougars totaled 281 yards on the ground.
"Well, we have to stop the run better than that," Palmer said. "They were able to run the ball effectively, but we made some mistakes that helped them in crucial situations. We learned some things tonight and that's what these games are about. We see what it takes to win a game like this."
Bulldog coach Al Lown was left in awe of Edisto's team speed.
"They were incredible and they're so explosive," Lown said. "We really gained some confidence when we were able to have those two long scoring drives in the first half. I knew that they were fast but my goodness. We were able to hld them down there at the end and keep them from scoring in the fourth quarter."
Silver Bluff defender Chris Wright, the same player who pressured Batesburg-Leesville's quarterback on the crucial two-point conversion in last year's title game, broke through and placed a hit on Josh Jennings that forced a Jennings pass to be picked off by Terrence Crawford with 1:34 left, essentially ending the game.
Early on it didn't appear as though either defense would be stopping anyone very often.
The Bulldogs started the game with a 17-play scoring drive of 67 yards as Smith scored on a one-yard sneak. The Cougars' Calvin Guinyard blocked the extra point attempt and the Bulldogs led 6-0. Edisto came right back, scoring on four plays as Lazarus Richburg scored on a sweep for six yards. Guinyard broke loose for 62 yards on two carries on the drive. Stephen Watts' extra point was good for a 7-6 Edisto lead.
DeAngel Bryant led the Bulldogs with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries to lead Silver Bluff offensively. Kelly added 70 yards and Jeffrey Baefield chipped in 63 yards. Edisto was paced by Guinyard with 134 yards on eight carries with a touchdown, while Jennings added 83 yards on three carries with a touchdown and Michael Morgan chipped in 63 yards on three carries.
Defensively, nose guard Rodriquez Rowe and freshman linebacker Brandon Young led the Cougars. Rowe tallied 10 tackles with Young adding eight.
The Bulldogs upped the lead to 12-7 with 3:35 left in the first half on a short run by Bryant. Crawford picked off the first of two passes from Jennings with 1:05 remaining in the half, giving Silver one more shot at the end zone. After a false start penalty, Bryant got loose to the tune of 48 yards down to the Edisto 37, and on the next play Barefield got behind Jennings on the right corner and Smith hit him in stride for a strike of 37 yards for the score, handing the Bulldogs a 19-7 halftime lead after the extra point by Eric Weathersbee was good. Silver Bluff had reached the end zone, driving 85 yards in jut two plays and 22 seconds.
The Cougars scored to start the second half with a drive of 10 plays and 63 yards before Guinyard crossed the goal line. Watts' kick was good and the Bulldog lead was trimmed to 19-14.
Both teams traded scores on consecutive drives with Silver Bluff scoring on a Smith sneak, and Jennings on a gorgeous run of 57 yards in which the Cougar quarterback left at least four Bulldog defenders on the groud after outstanding jukes, making the score 26-20 in favor of the Bulldogs.
But the defending champs came right back, ending the scoring with another long scoring drive of 10 plays before Bryant scored on a sweep of six yards.
T&D Sports Writer Mike Rosier can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by office phone at 803-533-5529.