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KERSHAW – Lancaster built an early lead and had to protect it on the way to a 22-12 win over Andrew Jackson’s upstart Volunteers on Friday, Aug. 30.
The Bruins forged a 15-0 halftime edge en route to the 10-point win, but determined AJ never went away.
Lancaster couldn’t breathe easy until the finals seconds ticked away at AJ’s Volunteer Stadium.
The Vols, who outscored Lancaster 12-7 in the second half, made it interesting at the finish as AJ’s Gervais Canty recovered a fumble at the Bruins 10.
Three plays later, AJ junior quarterback Kolby Whitley dashed in from nine yards out to make it 22-12 with 1:46 to play. The Vols, looking to cut deeper into the LHS lead and make it a one-score game, couldn’t convert on the two-point play as Cody Faile couldn’t hold Whitley’s end-zone pass.
“We’re starting to build some heart here and it showed there at the end,” AJ coach David Moore said. “These kids stepped up and fought hard.”
On the ensuing onside kick, the Bruins’ Cameron Meadows recovered at midfield.
A snap later, LHS junior running back Kadarius Wright bolted 45 yards to the AJ five. Two Wright carries netted no yards and Bruins’ quarterback Darius Robinson took a knee on third-down to cap the Lancaster win.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win and that’s what we came for,” McMurray said. “We know we have to get better, but Andrew Jackson fought to the end.”
Lancaster staked itself to an early lead and was able to stay on top, despite penalties and turnovers.
“They did what they had to do to win and we didn’t,” Moore said.
Lancaster, after a scoreless first quarter, broke on top 7-0 as the Bruins drove 49 yards in six plays.
Jeremy Toliver bolted in from a yard out to cap the drive, which was keyed by Wright’s 28-yard dash to the AJ one.
Trevor Latham’s conversion put LHS, up 7-0 with 10:42 left in the first half.
The Bruins, thanks to a Jemaric Jones’ fumble recovery at the AJ 44, extended their lead, 15-0 just before half. One play after Jones’ fumble recovery, Rashaun “Doopy” Cloud sprinted 32 yards to the AJ 12.
Six snaps later, Cloud dashed in from six yards out. The LHS scoring drive was kept alive by Wright’s three-yard run on a fourth-and-two at the Vols’ five.
A false start pushed the ball back to the seven and two plays later, Cloud scored from six yards.
On the conversion kick, alert LHS holder Austin Franceschelli swept left end for the two-point conversion and a 15-0 Bruins’ edge with 1:02 before intermission.
Early in the second half on a defensive gem, the Vols struck as AJ senior defensive end Tray King blocked a Mandrico Martinez punt into his stomach and raced 49 yards for the touchdown. Dale Crawford’s kick missed the mark with 9:27 in the third period, but the Vols were back in it.
“No. 12 (King) is a player,” McMurray said. “We didn’t contain him and he was a force all night.”
King’s night included four sacks, two tackles for loss, a caused fumble and three quarterback hurries.
The Vols, with a fumble recovery, had a chance to slice into the Lancaster lead, driving to the LHS 16, but Jerrell White’s key interception blunted the threat.
The Bruins’ final points came early in the final period following a short AJ punt to the Vols’ 35.
Five plays later, Wright bolted in from five yards out for a 22-6 lead after Latham’s kick. Robinson’s 15-yard pass to LaQuavis Alexander set up the score.
On AJ’s next possession, White came up with his second pick, but AJ kept battling.
The Vols made the most of a late break – Canty’s fumble recovery at the LHS 10 – which led to Whitley’s nine-yard touchdown run to make it a 10-point game.
“They weren’t going to lay down and we were fortunate to get a win,” McMurray said. “The key was we were able to get the lead and maintain. We knew it would be tough in here and that’s a tribute to AJ’s players, coaches and fans.”
Moore also tipped his cap to McMurray, who elected to kill the lock instead of score as the clock ran out.
“That was a classy move,” Moore said.
Lancaster hosts Ridge View in its home opener Friday. The Blazers dropped a 27-7 loss to Lexington.
AJ visits Richburg to face Lewisville, 1-1 after a 41-8 loss to Chester.