Braves charge to swat BHS Jackets

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Cheraw ignites for 41-14 win

By Greg Summers

BUFORD – It takes 48 minutes to win a high school football game, not 24.

After playing toe to toe for two quarters, the 10th-ranked Cheraw Braves pulled away from the Buford High School Yellow Jackets in the second half to notch a key 41-14 Region IV-AA win on Friday night.

“If we can get the same effort for 48 minutes like we got for 24 minutes, we will be in every game,” said BHS football coach Mike Wells.

And the key word, Wells said, isn’t effort; it’s we.

“We moved the ball well in the first half, but just didn’t execute in the second,” Wells said. “I share part of the blame for that with some of the offensive play calling.”

The Braves wasted little time after Justin Chapman returned the opening kickoff to the Jackets’ 23. Two plays later, Darrell Hawkins scored on a 4-yard plunge, James Davis tacked on the extra point to give Cheraw a 7-0 lead 27 seconds into the contest.

However, Buford answered back with one of its most impressive drives of the year. The Jackets offense, behind the running of senior fullback Scott Catledge, took the ball straight down the field. Catledge capped the 11-play, 73-yard, BHS Senior Night drive with a 3-yard touchdowm run of his own. Tyler Jenkins’ PAT knotted the game at 7-all with about four minutes left in the opening quarter.

The Braves were smothered by the BHS defensive line on their next series and had to punt after senior Marcus Brown threw Cheraw quarterback Malcolm Hunter for an 11-yard loss.

The Jackets took the lead on a Wing-T reverse when halfback Timmy Duncan broke through the middle and dashed 65 yards for paydirt. Jenkins’ kick gave the Jackets a 14-7 lead with 2:32 left in the first quarter.

Cheraw scored midway through the second quarter on a 4-yard run by Shrine Bowl-bound running back Marvin Lauderdale, with Davis’ extra point tying the game.

Buford’s Mikeem McKinney returned the kickoff to the CHS’ 40, but the drive ended when the Jackets couldn’t convert a key fourth down.

Facing fourth and four, Wells rolled the dice with a screen pass that was wide open and set up perfectly. However, C.J Blackmon’s pass was a little too tall for Donnie Duncan. Duncan leaped as high as he could, but the ball was just off his fingertips.

“It was there, too,” said Jackets offensive line coach Wes James. “That would’ve been a big gainer for us.”

Cheraw was poised to score again behind the running of Lauderdale, who ripped off back-to-back long runs and a long pass from Hunter to Storm Jacobs. But the promising drive ended when Buford’s Silas Moore intercepted a Hunter pass in the corner of the end zone.

Blackmon knelt on the ball, ending the first half tied at 14-all.

The first six minutes of the third quarter was a hard-hitting defense dominated tussle by both teams.

Cheraw finally broke out on top when Lauderdale, who finished the night with 149 yards on 18 carries, shed two would-be tacklers in the backfield, broke outside and bolted into the end zone untouched. Davis added the PAT to give the Braves a 21-14 lead. They would score again before the quarter was up on a short run by Hawkins. McKinney timed an outside rush perfectly to block the extra-point attempt, giving the Braves a 27-14 lead.

Cheraw score two fourth quarter touchdowns to quell any hopes of a Jackets’ comeback.

Wells said the second half came down to a matter of execution. To win on Friday nights, he said his team has to practice hard every day.

“You can’t afford to waste a day,” he said. “Helmets and shorts on Monday doesn’t mean taking it easy. I told the kids they have to take advantage of every single practice snap. We have to focus on getting assignments right on both sides of the ball.”

Buford, 4-5, travels to Indian Land on Friday to cap regular-season play.

Indian Land, 6-3, fell to Lee Central, 51-41 on Friday night in Bishopville.

 “Like I said, all it takes is focus,” Wells said. “If we do that, we can compete.”