Redmen can’t maintain fast start in playoff loss
ALBANY — In a game that featured contrasts from both teams offensively, it was the quick strike scoring for the Alexander Spartans that led to a 377 win over the Rock Hill Redmen in the Division V Region 17 quarterfinal.
After forcing a Rock Hill punt to start the game, the Spartans — making only their third appearance in the playoffs — fumbled on their second play and the Redmen took over at the Alexander 49.
Rock Hill (6-4) marched down the field in five plays resulting in a Chance Blankenship 7-yard run. Trystan Matney added the extra point to give Rock Hill a 7–0 lead with 7:50 to go in the first.
However, Alexander (10-1) answered quickly in three plays when quarterback Mason Chapman found Lukas Thompson down the middle for a 51-yard scoring strike.
Taylor Kimbrough ran for the two-point conversion and the Spartans led 8-7 with 7:00 to go in the first.
After gaining 53 yards rushing on the first two drives, Rock Hill’s offense couldn’t gain much traction, literally and figuratively, as the Redmen ballcarriers slipped several times on the natural grass surface coupled with a tough interior defense from the Spartans.
After the initial touchdown drive, the Redmen rushed for 76 yards the final three and a half quarters.
After forcing a punt, the Spartans would go on their longest scoring drive of the first half taking 2:47 off the clock, and extended the lead when Joey Barnes capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Kyle Howard added the extra point and the score was 15-7 with 1:58 to go in the first quarter.
The Spartans would added two more touchdowns in the second quarter when Chapman found paydirt from 5 yards out and Joey Barnes weaved his way through defenders for a 69-yard run.
Howard added the extra points on both scores to give Alexander a 29-7 lead at the half.
In the first half, the four Spartans scoring drives were a combined 4:39 of offensive time and that resulted in an average of 1:10 per possession.
“They were able to hit a couple big plays, and we weren’t able to respond like we needed to,” Rock Hill coach Todd Knipp said.
“We just didn’t execute well enough and make enough plays offensively and defensively to win tonight.”
After trading possessions on offense to begin the third quarter, Alexander added to the lead when A.J. Marks found Jake Weaver for a 32-yard touchdown strike.
Chapman added the two-point conversion to cap the 12-play, 81-yard drive and set the final score at 37-7.
Despite the loss, Knipp had nothing but praise for his scrappy team.
“This is a great group of kids who worked their tails off from day one and we were extremely excited to get back (to the playoffs),” Knipp said of Rock Hill’s first playoff appearance since 2007.
“We would have liked our story to end a little different this season, but I am proud of this group for what they have done to change the culture of our program. We have taken pride in our heart and ability to continue to work hard and compete each week.”
Rock Hill 7 0 0 0 = 7
Alexander 15 14 8 8 = 37
RH — Chance Blankenship 7 run (Trystan Matney kick) 7:50
AL — Lukas Thompson 51 pass from Mason Chapman (Taylor Kimbrough run) 7:00
AL — Joey Barnes 2 run (Kyle Howard kick) 3:58
AL — Mason Chapman 5 run (Howard kick) 11:41
AL — Joey Barnes 69 run (Howard kick) 8:23
AL — Jake Weaver 32 pass from A.J. Marks (Chapman run) 3:51
First downs 7 15
Rushesyards 38129 39299
Passing yards 0 115
Total yards 129 414
CmpAttInt 140 8140
Penaltiesyards 15 535
Punts-average 726.0 337.7
RUSHING — Rock Hill: Chance Blankenship 1684 TD, Brady Knipp 941, Danny Long 1118, Mason Darby 2 minus 14; Alexander: Joey Barnes 480 2TD, Trent Bradbury 5 69, A.J. Marks 568, Mason Chapman 926 TD, Lukas Thompson 324, Taylor Kimbrough 416, Damen Haning 414, Alex Stalder 13, Ethan Howes 20, James Wallace 10, Team 1 minus 1.
PASSING — Rock Hill: Mason Darby 140; Alexander: Mason Chapman 1151 TD, A.J. Marks 3439 TD, Taylor Kimbrough 4825, Chace Harris 010.
RECEIVING — Rock Hill: Chance Blankenship 10; Alexander: Lukas Thompson 259 TD, Jake Weaver 338 TD, A.J. Marks 115, Ethan Howes 15, Alex Stalder 1 minus 2.