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Thomas Heyward Plays Best Game Of Season In Defeating St. Johns Christian 40-6 Friday Night

Thomas Heyward Plays Best Game Of Season In Defeating St. Johns Christian 40-6 Friday Night   

By Billy G. Baker


Moncks CornerThomas Heyward Academy (7-1) running backs Anthony Fripp and J. R. Patterson combined for 286 net rushing yards and two touchdowns, while senior quarterback Peyton Bennett completed 7- of- 11 passes for 109 yards, including two touchdown receptions to Brandon Howard, as the Rebels beat St. Johns Christian 40-6 in a win that likely clinched the region title.

“All season we have not been able to put it all together for four quarters but tonight they did just that and we got maximum effort for all four quarters tonight,” said head THA coach Nic Shuford. “I think we have a complete football team and our guys have bought into what we are asking them to do. This is what you hope happens from a coach’s perspective. It was a complete team effort tonight.”

Coach Shuford called junior WR/LB Brandon Howard a playmaker on both sides of the ball. “He is a really smart kid who has a knack for finding the ball on defense and on offense he can turn in some big plays once the ball gets into his hands,” said Coach Shuford. “J R had another solid game running the ball; the line blocked well; and the defense did a good job keeping pressure on their quarterback, and we knew we had to come at him because he makes things happen for them on offense.”

Another huge weapon for the Rebels is the versatile play of Pusha. “On defense we pretty much play Pusha at linebacker but on offense we move him all over the place and defense have to account for where he is on the field at all times,” said Coach Shuford.

The team got some big news this week when senior offensive guard Therion Cannon (6-3, 265,5.2) committed to UAB. “They remained loyal to me so I remained loyal to them and I am looking forward to playing in college with them,” said Cannon in talking to Phil Kornblut on his statewide scoreboard show after the game. “My focus right now is helping the team win another championship.”

Next week THA faces region foe Bethesda Academy who beat the Rebels during the regular season a year ago but lost to THA in the championship game. “This is always a big game and it seems like this game is for the region championship just about every year,” said Coach Shuford. “Antwain Turner is a great football coach and he always has his guys ready.”    

SJCA head coach Brandon Clontz said he told his team after the game to learn from all of their mistakes in the game and to be better prepared for the Rebels should they be fortunate enough to meet them in the SCISA Class A finals down the road. “They are a really good football team and they did a great job forcing turnovers,” said Coach Clontz. “We got down inside the 10 three or four times in the first half and had three turnovers and managed to score only once. They are coached well. I told Nai Ryan before the game they were going to come after him and I told the team that we could not make mistakes against a talented team like they are. They showed what makes them a great football team because they don’t make mistakes that shoot them in the foot like we did tonight.

“Hopefully, we will learn from our mistakes this game, and while we played hard and competed, we just made too many mistakes to have a chance to win against a talented and well-coached team like they are. We have to regroup at practice on Monday and get ready to play Dorchester Academy next week.”  

St. Johns Christian (7-1), had two first half fumbles inside the Rebel’s 10- yard line on running plays, plus a Cavalier receiver got loose on what looked like a 50- yard scoring pass play from senior quarterback Nai-Ryan Bookert only to have a Rebel defender knock the ball out of his hands and through the back of the end zone at around the two- yard line for a touchback and possession back to the Rebels.  

THA led only 6-0 after the first period when senior Jaterious Pusha scored on a 55-yard run with 10:11 left in the first period. The two- point conversion play failed.

Then on their second drive of the SCISA Class A region showdown game the Cavaliers fumbled on their 9-yard line and Jeremy Clemmer recovered the fumble for the Rebels. Then on their very next possession the Cavaliers got a 56-yard run from Bookert down to the 37-yard line and then he passed 20 yards to Corey Moraux down to the one- yard line. After a five- yard penalty the Rebels forced a fumble and recovered the ball at the 10- yard line.

It took THA only seven plays to navigate the 90- yards with Fripp scoring from four yards. Pusha added a two-point conversion to make it 14-0 with 11:53 left in the half. Then disaster struck the Cavs once again as Bookert completed a pass to Moraux and he raced down the sideline only to have the ball stripped through the end zone at around the two.  Shane Rusch recovered a THA fumble at the Rebel 45 with 7;01 left in the first half and 9 plays later Bookert scored from the one to make it 14-6 after a failed conversion.

With just 26.8 seconds left in the opening period Bennett rifled a slant in pass across the middle to Howard for a 9-yard pass reception and the PAT failed making the score 20-6 at the half.

THA added 20 second half points on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Howard with 17.5 seconds left in the third period and the PAT was blocked making the score 16-6. Then with 7:20 left in the game Fripp scored from 28- yard run with Patterson adding a two-point conversion to expand the lead to 34-6. Then in the final minute of the game Preston Humbert got his senior moment on a 30-yard pick six that accounted for the final margin of 40-6.

The Rebels were led on defense by junior Cameron VanGeison with 8 tackles and Howard flipped to defense where he contributed six tackles. Fripp had 146 rushing yards on 8 carries while Patterson gained 140 yards on 11 carries.  

Bookert finished the game completing 11 of 24 passes for 186 yards while adding 95 yards rushing on 8 carries and the THA defense came at him all night as if it was trench warfare. Jaden Bradley added 43 yards on 9 carries for the Cavs. Moraux led all receivers in the game with seven catches for 143 yards while Hayden Redders caught three passe for 28 yards.

The top tacklers for SJCA were Matt Glover with 8 including a blocked PAT while Kasey Bostick and Malik Waheed had six tackles each. Grayson Earley chipped in five tackles, Nick Jiminez had four tackles and Jonathan Biering had three tackles and a fumble recovery.  

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