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SALUDA – In a tale of two halves, Andrew Jackson fell to Saluda, 33-10 in the first round of the Class AA Upper State Division II football playoffs at Saluda on Friday.
The Vols clung to a 10-7 halftime lead before Saluda erupted for 26 unanswered second-half points to earn a date with Chesnee next Friday.
“We just could not get going in the second half,” said AJ coach David Moore. “Every time we thought we might be getting momentum, we’d have a penalty, or missed assignment, or turnover.
“Give Saluda credit,” Moore said. “They ran the ball extremely well and we had a tough time stopping Telvin Clark.”
Clark rushed for 180 yards on 28 attempts, in leading the Tigers to 310 yards on the ground.
A stifling defense, coupled with excellent punting from Tyler Denkins, gave the Vols an opportunity to score first.
Midway in the second period, AJ started from the Saluda 39 and scored in five plays, capped by a Jonathan Brevard two-yard plunge. Brett Lucas added the extra point, and with 6:15 left in the half, AJ led 7-0.
Saluda responded with an 80-yard, six-play scoring drive. SHS quarterback Walker Noteboom threw a backside screen to tight end Devonta Brown, who then rumbled 60 yards for a TD. Hunter Webb added the first of four extra points to knot the score with 4:23 left in the half.
Bobby Delly returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to the SHS four yard line. The Vols could not punch it in and Lucas kicked a 20-yard field goal to give the Vols a 10-7 lead.
After the half, the Tigers clawed back.
Saluda, 6-5, scored on its first three possesions in the second half. Webb drilled a 26-yard field goal after the Tigers moved 71 yards in eight plays.
Notewood led Saluda to a TD on its second drive, finding Almonty Abney in the end zone from 27 yards out. The Tigers moved 75 yards in 12 plays to lead 17-10.
On its third possesion, Notewood called his own number and rambled seven yards for a touchdown. The Tigers covered 46 yards in five plays to lead 24-10 with11:48 left.
Saluda picked up two points when an errant snap was recovered in the end zone to up the Tigers lead to 26-10.
An Abney punt return, coupled with a Volunteer personal foul, gave the Tigers excellent field position at the AJ 11. Two plays later, Abney scored his second TD of the night from the four-yard line to make the final score, 33-10.
Ryan Phillips completed 6-16 passes for 73 yards. Phillips also rushed four times for four yards. Bobby Delly completed one pass for 44 yards after receiving a pass from Kolby Whitley. Gavin Clyburn was two of five for 14 yards. Whitley was one of three passing.
Quincy Grier caught four passes for 76 yards. Grier also had a fumble recovery.
Delly caught two passes for 17 yards. Chris White had one reception for 24 yards. Cody Ussery caught one pass for three yards.
Javaris Clyburn led the Vols in rushing with 25 yards on five attempts.
Brevard had four yards on two carries, including a touchdown. Chris White netted one yard on two rushes.
Tyler Denkins had three kickoffs into the end zone and William Cunningham had a fumble recovery.
“I really enjoyed this senior group,” said Moore. “I feel for them as their football career at AJ is over, but their leadership was evident all season.
“We will be starting in the weight room very soon, and will be working hard in the off-season to get ready for next year,” Moore said.
The Volunteers finished the season 4-7, 1-4 in region play.