GREER – Led by E.J. Bradford, who rushed for two touchdowns and 163 yards, Greer claimed the Region 2-4A championship on Friday night by maintaining an offensive pace that Laurens couldn’t at Dooley Field.
“They played hard all night long,” said head coach Daryl Smith. “It’s not effort we’re lacking, I don’t think it’s ‘want-to.’ I think it’s technique and assignment football that we are not getting right now.
“We’re making mistakes that we shouldn’t be making at the worst time we can make them. We’re missing reads. We’re not tackling well.”
The Raiders, coming off consecutive wins but lacking a shot at a playoff bid, arrived with an upset in mind, but while they rolled up 412 yards of offense and sophomore quarterback James Rawl passed for 259 of them, they could not play the perfect game necessary for the spoiler’s role.
The effort was solid, but the execution wasn’t, and the bad dream began on the game’s opening play from scrimmage. Greer (4-2, 3-1 region) entered the playing field immersed in a bank of smoke, and it lingered as Bryce Foster roared around right end on a 62-yard score. Laurens (2-3, 1-3) trailed from the time the game was 13 seconds old.
With Rawl completing 17 of 32 passes and Jeremiah Fuller rushing for 115, the Raiders came off the deck after trailing by two scores after a quarter.
Late in the first half, Rawl threw an interception that Greer’s Jake Cisson returned 45 yards. It was Rawl who made the tackle, which was in about the 90th percentile of hits by 6-foot quarterbacks nationwide. So fierce was it, in fact, that Rawl got a personal-foul penalty that was almost worth it.
Laurens got within three points (17-14) seven plays into the third quarter on Rawl’s 38-yard pass to Jeremiah Fuller, but it could draw no closer.
“We had the momentum right there,” Smith said. “The way you keep momentum is you make good plays, you do your technique, you play your assignments, and we didn’t do that on either side of the ball.”
Greer missed a field goal, at which point the comeback collapsed quickly. Taking over at the 20, Laurens began its drive with a false start, followed with a 1-yard loss by Zy Todd, and on 2nd-and-16 on its own 14, the snap rolled through Rawl’s legs, Greer pounced on it and Bradford scored immediately on a 5-yard run.
A 10-point lead turned into 17 (31-14) on Hollis Crosby’s touchdown pass to Jaleel Skinner with 6:42 remaining.
Crosby’s passing numbers weren’t as gaudy as Rawl’s, but what with the Yellow Jackets piling up 228 yards on the ground, they didn’t need to be.
All three of Laurens’ losses have been closer in statistics than on the scoreboard, and Smith said there is still time for that to change.
“We felt pretty good at halftime,” he said, “because we spotted them 14 points and were still in it. We just had mistakes at the absolute worst time all night long. We’ve got to correct that.”
Gilbert, which is ranked 5th in Class 3A, comes to K.C. Hanna next week.
Greer and Greenwood will represent the region in the coronavirus-curtailed playoffs. With Greer alone at the top, a victory last week over Greenville gives the Eagles the nod.
G – Bryce Foster 62 run (Elijah Honeycutt kick) 11:47 1st
G – E.J. Bradford 8 run (Honeycutt kick) 4:23 1st
L – Jeremiah Fuller 5 run (Brian Diaz kick) 8:14 2nd
G – Honeycutt 35 FG 1:38 2nd
L – Fuller 38 pass from James Rawl (Diaz kick) 9:05 3rd
G – Bradford 5 run (Honeycutt kick) 3:45 3rd
G – Jaleel Skinner 17 pass from Hollis Crosby (Honeycutt kick) 6:42 4th
L – Cayson Elledge 7 pass from Rawl (Diaz kick) 4:15 4th
G – Skinner 30 pass from Griffin (kick failed) 2:22 4th
Rushing: Laurens (39-153), Fuller 25-115, Zy Todd 4-38, Rawl 6-12; Greer (34-228), Bradford 23-163, Foster 1-62.
Passing: Laurens, Rawl 17-32-1 259; Greer (14-22-0 213), Crosby 13-21-0 183.
Receiving: Laurens (17-259), McGowan 7-144, Elledge 3-23, Fuller 2-49, Ryan Elledge 2-22, Jay Pulley 1-21; Greer (14-213), Skinner 5-125, DeArmond 4-53, Ware 4-27, Bradford 1-8.