Huge Second Half Lifts Gaffney Over Spartanburg

Quez+Smith+seals+the+deal+with+his+interception+return+for+the+touchdown+in+the+4th+quarter.

Scott Wall

Quez Smith seals the deal with his interception return for the touchdown in the 4th quarter.

Brock Hamrick, Staff Writer

With the chance to host its first home playoff game since 2013, the Gaffney Indians scored 35 points in the second half to defeat the Spartanburg Vikings 42-21 at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College. The win awards the Tribe at least one home playoff game which will be Friday as they host Easley at The Reservation. For the third time in as many weeks, the Indians outscored their opponent by at least 21 points. Kelvin ‘Peanut’ Kirby rushed for an eye-popping 155 yards and three touchdowns to lead Gaffney’s offense. Quarterback Tyshun Sarratt had a respectable night going 9 of 22 for 118 yards, 63 of which went to Shrine Bowler Dennis Smith.

Scott Wall
Kelvin ‘Peanut’ Kirby cuts the corner and heads for the goal line.

“This team right here the last three week has been playing football. I knew all along that this team had talent.” said Gaffney head coach Dan Jones.

Unlike the last three weeks, the Indians found themselves behind early after the Shrine Bowl select┬áConnor Shugart blocked Richard Sealy’s punt and Nigel Moore recovered it for a touchdown to put the Vikings up 7-0. Gaffney’s one and only score of the first half came as Kelvin Kirby found the end zone to cap off a 10 play 70 yard drive and tie the game at 7-7. Keonte Cartledge regained the lead for the Vikings with a quarterback keeper for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give the 14-7 lead back to Spartanburg which would stand at halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, Gaffney quickly showed they were ready to play football as ‘Peanut’ Kirby shredded defenders on his way to the end zone for a 65 yard score on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The momentum continued to swing the Indians way when No’Kinja Tate recovered the fumble by Jarel Long on the Vikings first play of the 3rd quarter. Just 5 plays later Quez Smith crosses the goal line running out of Gaffney’s heavy package to give the Tribe its fist lead of the game 21-14. After receiving great field position off of a bad punt by Tommy Washington, Gaffney was unable to capitalize but was able to pin Spartanburg deep with a great Sealy punt. Beginning at the 1 yard line, the Vikings sailed the length of the field, and Washington redeemed himself with the 6 yard keeper for the touchdown. Not to be outdone, the Gaffney offense put together a 9 play 50 yard drive to regain the lead at 28-21 as Kirby finished the drive off with a 13 yard touchdown run.

The Gaffney defense made a statement on the first drive of the 4th quarter with a goal line stand on the 2 yard line to force a turnover on downs. Richard Sealy got in on the scoring action with a 10 yard run for the score and put the Indians up 35-21. Quez Smith put the final nail in the Viking’s coffin with his interception returned for a touchdown on Spartanburg’s ensuing possession.

“It’s been good the last two weeks [with] Boiling Springs and Byrnes; we got off fast and we were playing ahead, but tonight we were playing behind, and the kids didn’t let up and kept fighting, and we went in at halftime down and Peanut had that big run and tied it up and it was on,” said Jones when asked about his team’s response to trailing Spartanburg early.

For the first time since 2013, Gaffney will host a playoff game at The Reservation. Easley, who finished third in Region 1-5A, will enter The Reservation with a 5-5 record and ranked 77th in the state of South Carolina. The last playoff game the Indians hosted, Gaffney fell to Boiling Springs and snapped its home playoff winning streak that dated back to 1984 when the Tribe lost to Orangeburg-Wilkinson. Kickoff for Friday’s game is set for 7:30.