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Barnwell set for return trip to Columbia after holding off Oceanside Collegiate 42 -31

Barnwell – The Barnwell Warhorses have been on a mission all year, to return to the class AA state championship game and in front of a packed house they accomplished their mission by holding off the Oceanside Collegiate Landsharks 42-31 to punch their ticket.

“Our kids have played hard all year and well all year. We live for another for another day and we have got one more,” said Barnwell head coach Dwayne Garrick. “I’m just proud of the team for the effort and focus they have shown all year.”

The victory sends the Warhorses (14-0) to Columbia to face the Saluda Tigers (13-2) an upset winner over defending AA state champions Abbeville 32-28.

The Landsharks finish the year at 8-5 after their first lower state championship game appearance.

“Hats off to Barnwell and I wish them the best next week. Our kids fought hard, but we made too many mistakes to win tonight,” said Oceanside head Chad Grier.

The Warhorses defense was the first to make a statement when on third down Deshawn Watson used a speed rush from the outside to strip Oceanside quarterback Sean Cooney off the ball in the end zone and then he fell on the ball for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

“Deshawn is one of the best football players I have ever coached. He makes plays all over the field for us,” said Coach Garrick.

The Landsharks responded with a 33-yard field goal by Chris Haynes to cut the lead to 7-3. The drive started after King Deloney returned the kick-off 49 yards to the Barnwell 36-yard line.

Barnwell would increase their lead to 14-3 when the put together a 11-play, 70-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by TJ Miller. Quarterback Craig Pender was 6 for 6 on the drive for 59 of the 70 yards.

Oceanside came right back with Cooney connecting on a 27-yard touchdown pass to Walker Rhue to put the finishing touches on 60-yard, 7 play drive. The extra point was no good and the Warhorse lead was cut to five at 14-9.

Jamari Chisolm would push the lead back to 12, when he scored from 15-yards out to cap a 66-yard drive and the Warhorses went into the half leading 21-9. On the night Chisolm would rush for 86 yards.

The Landsharks received the second half kick-off. Starting the on their 18 they would go on a 19 play 82-yard drive that took 9:41 off the clock to again cut into the Barnwell at 21-17 when Keegan Williams scored from the five. Cooney was 6-7 for 57 yards on the drive.

Seeing the Landsharks seize momentum, the Warhorses needed just two-plays to retake the momentum when Pender hit Marcus Robinson on a corner route for a 55-yard touchdown and the lead was back to 11 at 28-17.

The Barnwell defense forced a three and out with a short punt setting up the offense at the Oceanside 49. Barnwell’s Miller would take it to the house two plays later when he broke through the line, ran through a couple of tackles to score from the 38. The lead was now 18 at 35-17 as the fourth quarter started.

Cooney again lead the Landshark’s a down the field on their next possession to slice into the Barnwell lead when he connected again with Rhue from the 25 and with 10:52 to go in the game the Warhorses lead was 35-24.

The Oceanside defense forced Barnwell to punt on their next possession but on the first play from the 23 Cooney pass picked off by Demaurion Ginn and returned the ball to the one.

Chisolm scored his second touchdown and suddenly the lead was back to 18 at 42-24.

“They had been hurting us all night on the underneath route and we were finally able to get under it and make a play,” said coach Garrick on the interception.

“That pick was huge. Our offense gave them two scores and those turnovers hurt,” said coach Grier.

Cooney regrouped in a hurry leading the Landsharks right back on an 8 play, 60-yard drive to again cut the lead to 11 at 42-31 with 4:29 to go when Williams scored his second touchdown of the night.

The Warhorses recovered the onside kick and ran the clock down to 18.6 seconds to secure their second straight class AA state championship game.

Pender led the Warhorse offense completing 16-20 for 209 yards and the one score. Robinson had five receptions for 114 yards and Miller made key plays in the running and passing game all night.

“These guys are family. We started working for this since the spring and we stayed focused all year on where we wanted to go,” said Pender.

For Oceanside, Cooney finished the night 18-32 for 256 yards. Rhue was his top target with 7 receptions for 158 yards.

Williams came into the game averaging 182 yards rushing and the Barnwell defense held him to 46 yards which was on of the keys to the game.

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