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GREENWOOD – The gutsy Lancaster Bruins delivered on a do-or-die drive to keep alive their postseason football hopes.
Resilient Lancaster extended its season Saturday night when the Bruins clawed out a 14-10 win over Greenwood in the opening round of the Class AAAA Upper State Division II football playoffs at J.W. Babb Stadium.
The 9-3 Bruins, down 10-7, drove 41 yards for the winning score as junior tailback Zedrick Truesdale bolted in from a yard out to lift LHS on top with 45 seconds to play.
Bruins’ senior place-kicker Anna Funderburk drilled the extra point for the emotional four-point win.
On the winning drive, Truesdale, who ran for 48 yards in 10 carries on the night, gained 31 yards in all but two carries. Truesdale’s final carry of the eight-play drive came on a one-yard run.
The play was a sweep, but Truesdale momentarily bobbled quarterback Matt Reese’s pitch, then cut back in a trench seam and scored the clincher.
“I just found a crease and stretched it in the end zone,” Truesdale said. “Matt led us on the drive. We all came together and executed.”
Two plays prior to Truesdale’s touchdown, the Bruins went to Truesdale on a ball-possession fourth-and-two and he gained the first down on a clutch run.
“Somebody had to step up and make a play,” said LHS coach Bennie McMurray. “These kids kept fighting, clawing and scratching. I’m so proud of them.”
Truesdale’s touchdown run was the lone points of the second half in the intense defensive battle.
Region I-AAAA champion Greenwood, which finished 7-5, broke on top with 4:30 to play in the first period when Eagles’ place-kicker Cal Tinsley drilled a 36-yard field goal. Greenwood, which forced five LHS turnovers, used a Kelcy Quarles’ fumble recovery at the LHS 44 to produce its first points.
The Bruins, behind Reese, responded early in the second period when he connected with Truesdale on an electrifying 62-yard touchdown pass to put LHS up 7-3 following the first of two Funderburk extra points. Truesdale’s touchdown came on a third-and-eight snap.
“In a big game, you have to make big plays,” McMurray said. “We executed well there and Zed made a heck of run to get in the end zone.”
Greenwood used a Dee Barcliff fumble recovery to seesaw back on top. Eagles’ versatile running back D.J. Swearinger, who shifted to quarterback, connected with Javaris Rhode on a 17-yard alley-oop pass which was tipped, but Rhode made the TD grab on a third-and-10 play with 3:13 left before half. Tinsley added the extra point for a 10-7 halftime lead.
The tight contest stayed the same in the second half. Greenwood threatened to score following a Quinn Backus interception as it moved in position for a 34-yard Tinsley field goal try which was blocked by a hard-charging Casey Truesdale and recovered by Brion Strothers at the GHS 47.
LHS, aided by a 39-yard Reese to Kendrick Thompson pass, moved into position for a game-tying 30-yard Funderburk field goal, but her kick sailed left.
The LHS defense, which was tough all night, forced a three-and-out, one of nine on the night for GHS.
On the ensuing punt, Tinsley was able to retrieve an errant snap and get off only an 18-yard kick to the Eagles’ 41.
The Bruins, behind the junior rushing combo of Reese and Zedrick Truesdale, then marched in for the decisive score.
“Our offensive line blocked hard and our backs ran hard,” Reese said. “We just went hard.”
Greenwood coach Shell Dula tipped his cap to LHS.
“This was a hard-fought football game,” Dula said. “Both teams played outstanding defense. Lancaster made plays. They’re a good football team.”
The win sends the Bruins to fourth-seeded Goose Creek to face the 9-3 Gators, who rolled to a 28-2 win over T.L. Hanna on Friday night.