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For The Lancaster News
COLUMBIA - Andrew Jackson's defense stopped Columbia quarterback Kevin Davis at the one-foot line on the last play of the rain-soaked game to preserve a heart-stopping 10-6 victory for the Volunteers in a key Region IV-AA football game.
The Vols appeared poised to win the game when linebacker Kody Faulkenberry recovered a Caps' fumble at the AJ 9 with 2:10 left. AJ returned the favor, fumbling at the AJ 21 with 49 seconds left.
A 17-yard burst by fullback Lorenzo Boyles had the Caps at the AJ four. After a timeout, standout back Antonio Wilson was stood up at the one by AJ ace linebacker Dylan McKittrick. Boyles then was stuffed for no gain by the Vols, setting up the turning back of Davis on the game's last play.
Defense, defense, defense, said AJ coach Louis Clyburn. I can't express how proud I am of this defense tonight. Coach (Kemper) Amick had his defense dialed in our offense tonight. We do not fare as well offensively in this type of weather, so our defense carried us tonight. We stopped them inside the 10-yard line on five different occasions.
The Vols forced six turnovers, including five fumbles. McKittrick recovered three, while Chad DiCola and Faulkenberry each had one. Nico Perry had an interception.
On the night, Columbia fumbled 11 times, losing five. AJ turned it over four times with three interceptions and a fumble. In addition, Columbia blocked two AJ punts in the second half.
Columbia, 6-2, 2-1 was ranked sixth in Class AA state poll prior to the game. Andrew Jackson evened its record at 4-4, 2-1.
The Vols capitalized on Perry's interception by covering 40 yards in three plays midway the second quarter. AJ quarterback Daniel Pardue executed the pump fake to perfection and found a wide-open Justin Sellers for a 39-yard TD. Tyler Dinkins added the kick.
After forcing a punt, AJ started from its 15 and drove to the CHS six-yard line in eight plays. Dinkins drilled a 23-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0 with 1:59 left in the half.
The second half was played largely on the AJ side of the field.Columbia blocked two punts and was inside the Vols' 10 on five occasions. Columbia's lone TD came after a 56-yard drive with 6:03 left. Davis found Boyles on a eight-yard scoring strike. A bad snap foiled the extra point.
For the game, Sellers hauled in four passes for 83 yards, including the 39-yard TD pass. Tremaine Jackson caught three passes for 63 yards. Ryan Miller snared three for 46 yards. Daniel Wright led the Vols in rushing with 46 yards on six carries.
Daniel Wright showed up big time on both sides of the ball for us tonight, AJ assistant coach Robbie Cash said of the AJ ace.
Antonio Wilson ran for 187 yards on 35 gives. Boyles had 85 yards on 11 gives for Columbia.
This was a great team win for us tonight, Clyburn said. We played with heart and the commitment we made to each other last February and it provided results tonight.
I do not know all the history of great games at AJ, but I believe we'll look back and say this game was a great game for our program, Clyburn said.
We'll celebrate tonight, but start getting ready for Central of Pageland tomorrow.
AJ hosts Central of Pageland on Friday night. Central defeated Eau Claire 35-0. Central has won 23 of the last 26 games with the Vols, but there is a new sheriff in town at AJ.