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The Clover Blue Eagles, a spirited group outmanned by Region 3-AAAA opponents, fell to the Rock Hill Bearcats 49-10 in a cross-county clash at Memorial Stadium.
With quarterback Josh Erby mixing the run and throw effectively, the Bearcats bolted to a 28-3 halftime advantage. Operating out of the double wing-T, Clover had some success moving the ball after receiving the opening kickoff.
With the ball placed at the nine-yard-line, LaDarius Adams gained positive yardage on two carries. Moments later, sophomore running back Rivington Lambert bowled over a Bearcat defender for first down yardage at the 27.
But the drive stalled and the Bearcats gained favorable field position following a shanked punt.
Two plays later, Rock Hill running back Jonathan Adams raced 31 yards to pay dirt.
The Bearcats dotted the scoreboard with 2:10 left in the first quarter when Erby broke loose on a 26-yard scoring jaunt.
Rock Hill scored on a 60-yard punt return in the early moments of the second quarter and the Bearcats were off and running.
With the second quarter winding down and the Blue Eagles in possession at their own 43, quarterback Scott Jackson hurled a pass to sophomore tight end Landon Harkey, who was hauled down at the Rock Hill 22.
Later, on fourth and 9, senior placekicker Evan Edmunds was called on for a field goal attempt and booted the ball through the uprights with 11.8 seconds left in the half.
The Jackson-to-Harkey duo struck again late in the third quarter when a roughing the kicker penalty placed the ball at the Bearcat 33.
On first down, Jackson found Harkey open at the Bearcat 2 and the 6-foot-4 tight end gathered it in for a first and goal.
Ladarius Adams penetrated the end zone for the touchdown, much to the delight of Blue Eagle faithful.
Edmunds added the PAT and the Blue Eagles had cut into the lead at 34-10.
The Bearcats tacked on a couple more scores and won handily, but there was no quit in this Blue Eagle team.
Interim head coach John Barrett lauded the Blue Eagles' gritty effort.
“The kids are working hard to improve,” assured Barrett. “I am proud of them.
“This is only our third week of doing this.”
Said Barrett, “We changed offenses in the middle of the season because we had to. We moved the ball in the second half.”
Harkey described how it felt being on the receiving end of two well-thrown Jackson aerials.
“It was my first varsity catches,” he said with a wide grin. “It was an amazing feeling.
“Scott and me got together and walked the field before the game and we were able to connect during the game.”
Ladarius Adams talked about scoring the Blue Eagle touchdown and sharing the backfield with Kevis Adams.
“Our run game has picked up,” he noted. “The offensive line blocking is the key. They are doing a good job.
“We need to get where we can move the ball for four quarters.”
Barrett is keenly aware there are bigger challenges ahead, beginning Friday night when powerful Northwestern enters Memorial Stadium.
The Trojans, a top-10 team, have suffered narrow losses to defending state 3A champ South Pointe and to nationally-ranked Byrnes.
“We know we have yet to play the strongest teams in the region,” commented Barrett. “We will continue to work hard and prepare for our next opponent.”
Barrett spoke from the heart while huddling up with the team after the loss to Rock Hill.
“We love you,” he said. “We are proud of you and we support you.”
Concluded Barrett, “We are all in this together. Keep working and you will make it.”