Twice as Nice

Gaffney defeats Hillcrest 35-28 to advance to the third round of the playoffs.


Johnnie Godfrey (FBC Sports)

Dennis Smith on one of his three touchdown receptions

Brock Hamrick, Staff Writer

The Gaffney Indians found the going a little tougher on their second trip to Hillcrest on Friday night, but the Tribe managed to squeeze out a 35-28 victory to advance to the third round of the 5A playoffs. The Rams scored 28 points in the second half, but they were unable to recover the onside kick, allowing the Indians to run the clock out.

Opening the game on offense, the Indians marched down the field, putting together a 9-play, 77-yard touchdown drive, finished as Tyshun Sarratt found Dennis Smith from 17-yards out to hand the Tribe the early 7-0 advantage. Hillcrest would answer 8 plays later when Alec Morton connected with Steven Campbell on a 10-yard touchdown toss to tie the game at 7-7. Not to be outdone, Sarratt hit Smith again, this time on a 27-yard touchdown pass. The first quarter expired with the Indians clinging to the 14-7 lead.

The Gaffney defense stood firm on third down to begin the second quarter, forcing Gustavo Martinez to attempt a 36-yard field goal that sailed wide left. The Rams defense stalled Gaffney’s ensuing possession on the Hillcrest 36-yard line as Cameron Rice was unable to pick up three yards for the first down. Following their three-and-out, Hillcrest trotted on the punting unit but the snap went well over Morton’s head and Quez Smith scooped up the loose football, returning it for a touchdown. Marcos Mosqueda’s PAT was no good, and the Indians would take the 20-7 lead to halftime as Ty’ron Hopper intercepted Morton to end the half.

Hillcrest began the second half with the football, and Morton found Campbell again for another score to pull within 6 at 20-14. The Rams gained their first lead of the night as McFadden ran off the left side of his offensive line 19-yards for the score, handing the 21-20 lead to Hillcrest. Searching for an answer, senior D.J Logan stepped up, returning the ensuing kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown, igniting the Indians.

“The momentum was swinging back their direction, he’s only 5’5″ but he’s (D.J Logan) one of our best players there’s no doubt about that and we can always count on D.J to make a big play,” said Gaffney head coach Dan Jones.

Logan was not done as he caught the 2 point conversion pass from Sarratt to push the Indians advantage to 28-21.  Following a Hillcrest punt, Sarratt found his favorite receiver in Smith for the third on a 33-yard touchdown strike to lengthen the lead at 35-21. The Rams did not give up; Campbell blocked Richard Sealy’s punt and returned it to the end zone to tighten the game at 35-28. Hillcrest was unable to recover the onside kick, and Gaffney ran the clock out to move on to the third round.

“I’m certainly proud of our guys, I told them at halftime if we can stop them defensively on their first drive of the second half and score first, I felt like we could knock them out. They’re a good football team and they got much better since the first time we played them,” said Dan Jones.

Gaffney returns to Boiling Springs next week looking to avenge an earlier 38-0 embarrassment in Bulldog Country on Week 8 of the regular season. The Indians and Bulldogs have met two times during the playoffs, one of which was in the third round, and Gaffney defeated Boiling Springs 35-7 to advance to the 2011 State Championship –  the other was 2013, and Boiling Springs won that contest 48-41 in the first round.

“They (Boiling Springs) are a good football team, they won this region (Region 3-5A), and this region is still standing so that tells you a little bit about them. Hats of to those guys for winning their second round playoff game,” said Jones