Cut Andrew Brown and he will likely bleed Aynor Blue Jacket blue. To his core, he’s a member of the Aynor community.
On Friday, the Aynor community celebrated with its son as he led the Blue Jackets (7-0, 2-0 Region 6-3A) to the biggest win in recent memory, defeating No. 1 Dillon 38-30 in a tough-nosed, throwback style of game. The win for Aynor snaps a streak as long as recent memory against Dillon, which had won the previous 14 contests by at least five touchdowns.
“I’m speechless to be honest with you,” Aynor’s coach Jason Allen said following the game. “It’s just a credit to our kids for believing; it’s not easy to play a team like Dillon, they’re just a machine. It just means our kids believe that our brand of football can travel anywhere and beat anybody. It’s big for our confidence and to make sure our kids really understand what we’re doing here.”
All that Aynor is doing is rewriting the history books, handing Dillon its first region loss in a decade and putting Region VI and Class 3A on notice.
“We knew we had a really good chance to be a good team this year and we knew we would have a chance to measure ourselves against the best (in Dillon) and we feel like we’re the best now,” said Aynor’s senior quarterback, Brown. “We have to keep working on Monday, we’ve got Loris next week and everybody is coming for us.”
Dillon didn’t lie down and let Aynor win the contest; it came out firing on offense and led 22-16 at halftime behind three scoring strikes from Jay Lester to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce. Each time Dillon put up a score, Aynor answered behind the methodical pace of Brown and Allen.
“(Andrew) told me tonight ‘Coach, I’ll take it 50 times, whatever you need me to do.’ He took some big shots and had me worried, but he bounced back from every hit hungry to do it again,” Allen said. “His fight tonight was amazing.”
Brown credited the game plan of Allen and the abilities of his teammates to keep the Dillon defense on the field and its explosive offense parked on the sidelines.
“It’s unbelievable, but with the style of offense that we play, you have to keep an explosive team like Dillon off the field. We kept the ball in our hands with long, sustained drives. We knew we had to do that to win the game and we executed it. I’m so proud of this team. It meant so much because that was a stepping stone; we’ve got to come back on Monday ready to go to work.”
Perhaps the game’s biggest moment came in the third quarter, when Aynor took the opening drive of the second half for a score, then intercepted Lester, giving the Blue Jackets momentum and a lead at 30-22. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dillon would tie the game on a Lester touchdown run.
The Wildcats wouldn’t touch the ball on offense again after scoring with 11:55 left in the game.
“I told my defensive coordinator (Billy Jones) that we were probably facing the best offense in the state and that we wouldn’t win an offensive shootout,” Allen said. “Our challenge tonight was to hold the ball, grind it out, and challenge them physically up front. I thought our guys responded and did what we needed them to.”
For Brown, this is a legacy win that cements him as an Aynor legend, but he isn’t ready to rest on his laurels at this point.
“I’ll fight for these guys and they’ll fight for me, I love this team,” he said. “I knew my team needed me and I couldn’t let them down. I think I read somewhere that (Dillon) led the all-time series something like 19-1 and the one win Aynor had was before I was born, so I’m blessed to be a part of this. We’ve had so many good quarterbacks to come through Aynor and I wanted to be the one that beat Dillon. We aren’t done yet, this team is special.”
Although thrilled with the result, Allen reminded his team simply: “They’re not going to crown us state champions tonight, so we’ve got to go play again and be ready for that.” Then, he celebrated a statement win for his alma mater in his second year at the helm of the program.
DIL – 14 8 0 8 – 30
AYN – 8 8 14 8 – 38
DIL – Jay Lester 33-yard pass to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (Kavi Patel kick good) 10:42
AYN – Andrew Brown 1-yard run (Brown run for 2-point conversion) 6:08
DIL – Lester 16-yard pass to Huggins-Bruce (Patel kick good) 4:11
AYN – Noah Jones 2-yard run (Fred Pollard run for 2-point conversion) 5:52
DIL – Lester 15-yard pass to Huggins-Bruce (2-point run good) 00:39
AYN – Brown 2-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 8:52
AYN – Jones 1-yard run (Brown run for 2-point conversion) 1:51
DIL – Lester 1-yard run (2-point run good) 11:55
AYN – Brown 4-yard run (Brown run for 2-point conversion) 4:13
DIL – Jay Lester 7-9-91-3-1
AYN – Andrew Brown 5-6-46-0-0
DIL – Nehemiah Squire 7-57
AYN – Andrew Brown 36-141 3TDs
DIL – Ahmari Huggins-Bruce 5-77 3TDs
AYN – Jabbarie Green 1-25