SILVER BLUFF 31,BAMBERG-EHRHARDT 29
PETTICOAT JUNCTION - Each half of Friday night's crucial Region 5-AA game between Silver Bluff and Bamberg-Ehrhardt started with a drive that signaled how that portion of the game was about to go. Fortunately for Silver Bluff, the Bulldogs had one last trick up their sleeves and pulled out a 31-29 victory over the Red Raiders on a 40-yard field goal by Pedro Zambrano.
Bulldog head coach Al Lown said the game-winning kick was the result of the effort his senior puts in each week.
"It's unreal," Lown said. "I tell people all the time, they don't understand how hard he works at practice."
Zambrano was all smiles after the game, saying he was glad that he got the opportunity to push his team over the top in a big game.
"It's really important for me because I know I'm a part of the team, and I want to help this team get as far as we can," he said.
Silver Bluff (5-1, 1-0 Region 5-AA) started the game with a 13-play, 73-yard drive that culminated with a 17-yard run by quarterback Jalen Jackson. The first drive attempt by Bamberg-Ehrhardt (5-1, 0-1) ended with an interception, and Silver Bluff's RJ Stallings made the Red Raiders pay with a 36-yard run to push the score to 14-0.
Bamberg-Ehrhardt stole some momentum back on its next drive with a 65-yard scoring run by Devondree Williams with less than a minute to go in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs didn't take long to answer with a 6-yard run by Myles Corbitt to take a 21-7 lead.
The Red Raiders suffered another setback on the ensuing kickoff. Zambrano dropped in a short kick along the home sideline, which skipped before return man Malcolm Jones could get to it. Before it came down within his grasp, Silver Bluff's Chris Cummings had recovered, giving the Bulldogs possession at the Red Raider 16-yard line. Shaquez Wright took over from there, giving the home team a 28-7 lead on a 2-yard run.
Wright had a solid night, but Lown said the early advantage was a result of the sweeps and other outside runs the Bulldogs were able to run as a result of fake dives by the junior.
"We were getting outside on them a lot," Lown said.
The Bulldog offense was clicking on all cylinders early on and didn't punt for the first time until less than five minutes remained in the first half. That punt started a momentum-switching drive for the Red Raiders that included a 25-yard fourth down run by Demetrius Odom and ended with a 13-yard pass from Sumner Cooler to Landon Sandifer just before halftime.
Bamberg-Ehrhardt rode that energy boost into the second half and marched downfield on a 15-play, 70 yard drive of its own. Capped by a 5-yard run and two-point conversion by Odom, the Red Raiders closed to within six at 28-22.
The Red Raiders dominated most of the second half, holding Silver Bluff to a total of 13 plays on offense after the break. Meanwhile, Bamberg-Ehrhardt went on another lengthy drive that ended in another Odom touchdown to give the visitors a 29-28 lead with 8:34 remaining in the game.
Lown said that the visitors were able to control the ball because of a defensive adjustment and his own desire to play a conservative offensive style.
"They switched to a six-man front on us and dared us to throw it," he said.
The home team was forced to punt again, and the Red Raiders looked poised to run out the clock with a bruising Wishbone attack that saw Odom rack up 124 yards and Williams 150, but a costly mistake led to their defeat.
With 3:26 remaining in the game, a Cooler pass was intercepted by Stallings and returned to the Red Raider 45. Silver Bluff didn't advance the ball far, but the Bulldogs did enough to get into Zambrano's range. The senior nailed the 40-yarder with just a few seconds left to give the Bulldogs their final lead, which held up when Cooler's last-ditch effort fell into the wrong hands.
Stallings finished the night with 107 rushing yards and a score on seven carries to go with 20 receiving yards and the clutch interception.
Lown said that the victory was an important one because of playoff positioning. With a win already in the books over another of the region's preseason favorites, the Bulldogs are in the driver's seat early in the region schedule.
"It's huge because now we control our destiny," Lown said.
Silver Bluff will now face Wade Hampton on the road next Friday, while Bamberg-Ehrhardt will look to get back in the win column at Calhoun County.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been with the Aiken Standard since 2010.
BE 7 7 8 7 - 29
SB 14 14 0 3 - 31
SB-Jalen Jackson 17 run (Pedro Zambrano kick) 6:37.
SB-RJ Stallings 36 run (Zambrano kick) 3:17.
BE-Devondree Williams 65 run (Matt Maxwell kick): 42.7.
SB-Myles Corbitt 6 run (Zambrano kick) 10:06.
SB-Shaquez Wright 2 run (Zambrano kick) 8:22.
BE-Sumner Cooler 13 pass to Landon Sandifer (Maxwell kick): 7.3.
BE-Demetrius Odom 5 run (Odom run) 5:02.
BE-Odom 1 run (Maxwell kick) 8:34.
SB-Zambrano 40 field goal: 6.4.
BE-Williams 25-150-1TD, Odom 25-124-2TD, Cooler 5-29. Totals 55-303-3TD.
SB-Wright 14-24-1TD, Stallings 7-107-1TD, Corbitt 6-31-1TD, Jackson 4-12-1TD, Tyler Fishalow 4-15. Totals 35-189-4TD.
SB-Jackson 3-6-30-0TD-0INT, Jaylen Lawrence 1-1-9-0TD-0INT. Totals 4-7-39-0TD-0INT.
SB-Wright 1-9, Stallings 2-20, McKenzie Wilson 1-10.
SB-Lawrence 2-14, Stallings 1-20.
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