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Homecoming Game Slips From Thurmond's Grasp In Final Seconds

By David Whatley

web posted October 7, 2017
SPORTS Football fans witnessed a dramatic Friday night game, played under a harvest moon at Strom Thurmond Stadium.  The visiting Tigers (1-5) from Swansea took the field hungry for a win.  The team which was 0-1 in regional play, sorely needed a good outing to get them back on track.

Thurmond won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the second half.  Lawson Reel got the game rolling by kicking the ball to Swansea's junior wide receiver, Dante Williams, who signaled for the fair catch at his own 26 yard line.

The Tigers started out with three consecutive pass plays from quarterback Keenan Coats, which netted 12 yards.  They were obviously looking for weaknesses in the Rebel secondary.  After a short run and a penalty, Swansea was forced to punt the ball when they failed to convert on 3rd down.

The opening drive for the Rebels began at their own 13 yard line with a short run by Jaquan Edwards.  Stand-in quarterback, Tyrek Williams, who was playing for the injured Jequan Harris, ran for a 1st down to the Thurmond 25 on the next play.  Edwards 2-yard gain on the next play brought up 2nd and 8.  A shovel pass to Edwards picked up 19 yards.  With the ball spotted at the Thurmond 46, Williams handed off to Edwards three more times, for a total of 10 yards and another Rebel 1st down.  Now at Swansea's 44 yard line, Edwards was called on again carrying the ball for a gain of 5.  Williams connected on the next play to senior wide receiver, Ty Johnson for a touchdown.  Reel's point after attempt was good, and Thurmond led 7-0.

The Tigers next possession started on their own 22 yard line where senior wide receiver, Dayyan Felder signaled for the fair catch.  The eight plays of this drive featured a good balance of run and pass plays with completions to sophomore, Michael Jones, and runs by senior, Kendall Brooks.  It was Brooks who would score on an 18 yard run on the eighth play of the drive.  The extra point kick by Rodriguez tied the game at 7.

Strom Thurmond answered Swansea's scoring drive with another scoring drive of their own.  This set of downs saw a 17 yard run by Edwards called back for holding.  A couple of plays later, Williams connected with Ty Johnson on a huge play picking up 66 yards and placing them at the Tiger 9 yard line with 1st and goal.  Two plays later, Williams took the ball into the end zone on a quarterback keep.  The extra point by Reel was good to close the 1st quarter with a score of 14-7.

Devyn Wannamaker caught Reel's kickoff, signaling for the fair catch on the Swansea 27.  The Tigers went four and out on this drive, punting to the Rebels, who took over on their own 35 where Ty Johnson was brought down by Dayyan Felder.  On the first play of the drive, Williams was unable to get a handle on a bad snap, and fumbled the ball.  Swansea recovered on the Thurmond 29 yard line.

Coats threw incomplete on 1st down.  Brooks ran for 1 yard on 2nd down.  Coats connected with his receiver on 3rd and 9 for a touchdown, making the score 14-13.  The point after attempt was blocked.

Sophomore, Josh Pixley returned the Swansea kickoff 50 yards after catching the ball at the Rebel 15 yard line.  Starting 1st and 10 on the Tiger 35 yard line, Javin Holston was dropped for a 3 yard loss.  Williams completed a pass to Ty Johnson to bring up 3rd and 7 at the Swansea 32.  Then, Edwards carried the ball to the Tiger 5 yard line where he fumbled.  Swansea recovered the ball on their own 3 yard line.

A determined Tiger team took the ball all the way down to the Rebel 10 yard line.  A couple of savvy defensive plays by Thurmond players, twice saved a touchdown.  First, sophomore, Tra Key ran down Coats who picked up 74 yards on a quarterback draw play.  Next, cornerback Robert West, knocked a potential touchdown pass loose from a Swansea receiver.  The Rebel defense held and forced a turn over on downs, regaining possession on their own 10 yard line.

 Despite the great defensive stance, the offense could not capitalize on the next series and Thurmond punted away after netting only a yard.  Coats and company took over at the 50 yard line.

After completing a 7 yard pass to Michael Jones, Coates was sacked on the next two consecutive plays by senior, Tre Moore resulting in a total of 22 yards lost.  Rodriguez punted away to the Thurmond 16 yard line.

In a drive that highlighted their ground game, Thurmond's Williams and Edwards combined to run the 84 yards, with Edwards clicking off a 47 yard run in the series.  Edwards capped off the drive with a 4 yard touchdown trot.  Reel made the point after and the score was 21-13, where it remained at the half.

During the intermission, Destiny Brown was named first runner up in her quest for Homecoming Queen.  That title ultimately went to Joy Johnson, who was named the winner in the pageant.

The Rebels received Swansea's kick off at their own 30 yard line.  Jaquan Edwards returned it to the Tiger 47 setting up excellent field position to start the half.  Unfortunately, the drive would sputter, gaining only 13 yards over eight plays, and would end with a final pass to Jamarvious Jones short of first down yardage.

After punting to Swansea, the Thurmond defense would hold the Tigers to four and out.  Swansea, however, showed their willingness to gamble, when punter Rodriguez faked his kick and tried to convert, but came up short.  This was a glimpse to the length that this Tiger team would go to win the game.

Starting on the Swansea 38, Holston, Williams, and Edwards combined to cover the 38 yards in five plays.  Edwards toted the ball into the end zone, and Reel's kick was good to put the Tigers down by 15 points, 28-13.

Swansea received the kickoff and began their next drive on their own 36 yard line.  Eleven plays later, the Tigers found themselves on the Thurmond 24 to end the third quarter.  When play resumed for the fourth quarter, QB Coats clicked off a 10 yard run.  On first and 10 from the Rebel 14, Coats found Michael Jones in the end zone for a touchdown.  The Tigers faked the point after kick and instead ran the ball in for a 2 point conversion, bringing them to within 7 points.  The score was now 28-21.

Swansea picked up a personal foul on the kickoff when Edwards dropped the ball, and Holston was clothes-lined after scooping up the errant ball. 

Going again to their ground game, Edwards and Williams marched the ball down to the Swansea 18 yard line, where Edwards scored on an 18 yard run, but had the play called back for holding.  From the Tiger 28, Williams ran the ball to Swansea's 19.  After two penalties, one for each team, Edwards run to the right from 14 yards out, to score his third touchdown of the night.  Reel made good on the extra point, and Swansea was down 35-21 with 7:55 left in the game.

A 4th down interference call against Thurmond kept the drive alive for the Tigers on the next series, who had started from their own 29 yard line.  This 10 play drive featured only one 3 yard running play by Kendall Brooks, with the rest of the yardage coming from pass plays to Michael Jones, Devin White, and Dayyan Felder.  It was Felder who caught the 29 yard touchdown pass from Coats.  The extra point was good, and Swansea's spirits lifted as the score stood at 35-28.

Thurmond managed one 1st down in the next drive, but failed to pickup another, causing them to punt to a hungry visiting team, who had about two minutes to attempt to tie the game.

Swansea's next drive was like something from a fairy tale.  Starting on their own 11, a draw play only gained a yard.  Coats was sacked on 2nd down by Tre Moore at the 4 yard line, but a holding penalty had been called against the Tigers.  This was a critical point of the game.  Thurmond elected to enforce the penalty, which caused Swansea to lose yardage, but gave them another down.  Faced with 2nd and 20, Coats' pass fell incomplete.  So did his next one.  Now, on 4th and 20, with 56 seconds left, the Tigers had no choice but to go for it.  Coats connected on the next pass and his receiver was tackled at the Thurmond 35.  With no time outs remaining they spiked the ball to stop the clock with 35.5 seconds.  Coats completed a pass to Felder at the Thurmond 20 for another 1st down.  Another spike to stop the clock with 23.5 seconds left in the game.  On 2nd and 10, Coats found Devin White in the end zone for a 20 yard touchdown reception.  It was now 35-34 and Swansea brought on the field goal unit.

Another spectacle unfolded in the extra point attempt to tie the game.  A bad snap was barely put down in time for Rodriguez to kick it.  The point was good, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Tigers an option to surrender the point, and play the down again.  This time, going for the win, they lined up for a 2 point conversion.  The Rebels took their final time out.  When the break was over, Swansea again lined up for the two points.  Coats successfully ran the ball into the end zone and the Tigers took the lead, 36-35, with 16.9 seconds remaining in the game.

Swansea was made to kick off for a second time after their first squib kick went out of bounds.  Edwards returned the ball to the Thurmond 42.  Williams next pass fell incomplete.  With 7.1 seconds left, Williams next pass was overthrown, but the officials called a holding penalty against Swansea as time expired.  This gave the Rebels one untimed down with 0:00 on the game clock.  Williams final pass to Ty Johnson missed it's mark and Thurmond fell to the Tigers of Swansea 36-35.               

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