Rock Hill showed it was a fairly complete team, getting touchdowns passing, running and on special teams against Conway on Friday night.
And that was just the first quarter. The visiting Bearcats jumped out to a 21-0 lead, including touchdowns within a minute of each other, then answered a second-half surge to top the Tigers 34-13 at The Backyard.
“We felt like we matched up with [Rock Hill], but we got outplayed tonight,” Conway coach Chuck Jordan said. “I don’t think there’s any question about it. They played very fast and we didn’t. We just got ourselves into such a bind there on the front end, and it was hard to dig ourselves out of that hole. They’re too good of a team to let them get that kind of a jump on you.”
The Bearcats’ Brandon Crouch drew first blood with a 70-yard punt return for a score, then Conway fumbled the ball away the ensuing kickoff, setting up Rock Hill (2-1) quarterback Josh Irby to hit Jaleel Scott with a 34-yard touchdown pass to burst out to a 14-0 lead.
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“We’re giving the ball up when it hurts us. I felt like that fumbled kickoff return was a really, really hurtful thing for us,” Jordan said.
Running back Jonathan Adams then broke free for a 66-yard touchdown to give Rock Hill a three-touchdown cushion with less than 9 minutes gone in the opening quarter.
After managing just 71 yards of offense in the first half, the Tigers (1-2) came out strong after intermission, taking the opening possession of the third quarter and marching down to the Rock Hill 20. From there Mykal Moody hit Bryan Edwards with a fade pass in the right corner of the end zone, and later in the quarter Conway’s Ashton McCants scored on a 46-yard fumble return to cut the lead to 21-13.
“I felt like that was the first time we had any energy,” Jordan said. “Didn’t feel like we had any in the first half. We came out and I feel like stuck the ball down their throat, and that’s what we wanted to do. Then we made another good play and got back in the game. But then, again, defensively we weren’t able to slow anybody down.”
Rock Hill answered when Irby found Jamal Jones, who made the catch, broke a tackle and sprinted downfield before being dragged down at the Tigers’ 5. Two plays later Irby scored on a keeper up the middle to stretch the lead to 14 once more. The Bearcats added an insurance score with just over 4 minutes to play on a 10-yard run by Irby.
Moody was once again the workhorse for the Tigers, running or throwing on 40 of Conway’s 55 offensive plays. He finished with 56 rushing yards on 23 carries and was 5-for-17 passing for 91 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Jordan said his team needs to do a better job of creating turnovers, becoming more consistent on both sides of the balls and eliminating costly mistakes.
“We made some bad mistakes at inopportune times,” Jordan said. “… It was just one of those nights, it didn’t matter what you did, it just didn’t go your way.”
RH-Brandon Crouch 70 punt return (Harrison Dixon kick), 6:48
RH-Josh Irby 34 pass to Jaleel Scott (Dixon kick), 6:08
RH-Jonathan Adams 66 run (Dixon), 3:50
C-Mykal Moody 20 pass to Bryan Edwards (kick good), 9:28
C-Ashton McCants 46 fumble return (kick good), 3:08
RH-Irby 10 run (Dixon kick), 4:07