Jackets lose region title, look on to playoffs

Nation Ford High School from Fort Mill is looming large on North Augusta's football horizon, as the Yellow Jackets are to play host to the Falcons in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jackets (8-3 overall and 4-1 in Region 5-AAAA play) begin postseason play with no momentum, having lost 28-21 Friday at home to Dutch Fork (8-3, 5-0), in a game that guaranteed the region title to the winner.

The Silver Foxes had built a 14-0 lead early in the third quarter, and the Jackets, watching Dutch Fork's Matt Colburn rack up 226 rushing yards in the course of the evening, were unable to close the gap to less than a touchdown.

Dan Pippin, North Augusta's coach, was quoted in The State as offering no excuses.

"That's a very good football team, but I have to do a better job of coaching. The kids played hard. This was on me," he said.

The Foxes (7-4) were able to stuff North Augusta's running game for the most part. Bucking the trend was Trey Morgan, who scored on a 37-yard run in the second quarter. Morgan also hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass from Trib Reece in the third frame, and Reece also connected for a 40-yard aerial touchdown, with Devonte Pressley in the game's final minute.

Nation Ford enters the playoffs on a two-game losing skid, having been dumped at Northwestern 42-19 Oct. 26 and followed that up with a Friday home loss, 28-21, to Fort Mill.

Morgan, in assessing the contest against Nation Ford, said, "They look like they're a pretty good team on film ... From what I've seen, they're pretty big, but we're faster than they are."

The winner of Friday's game, in advancing to the second round, will either play at Greenwood or at home against Fort Mill. North Augusta is seeded sixth among 16 teams in the state tournament. Nation Ford is 11th.