-

Friday night football: Jaguars rally for 12-8 win over Rebels

  • Anthony Garzilli/JCST Ridgeland-Hardeeville began the season with a 12-8 win over host Thomas Heyward.
  • Anthony Garzilli/JCST RHHS's coaching staff gets into it.
  • Anthony Garzilli/JCST THA takes the field
  • Anthony Garzilli/JCST THA coach Nic Shuford

The first game of the year is already an early candidate for one of the best games of the year.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville High rallied Friday night to beat host Thomas Heyward 12-8 at Harvey-Beach Stadium.

The game, the second varsity football matchup between a Jasper County School District public school and the Ridgeland private school, was the season opener for both teams.

After a scoreless first half, which featured a turnover apiece, the SCHSL Class AAA Jaguars scored first on a Derald Nelson Jr. fourth-down touchdown pass to Jabari Williams that put RHHS ahead 6-0 with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter.

After forcing a punt, RHHS drove to THA’s 32-yard line, but the Rebels forced an incomplete pass on fourth down.

The Rebels (SCISA Class A) then methodically drove into Jaguars territory. Usually the Rebels play fast, but THA took its time as Caleb Tufts ran 9 yards for a first down to THA’s 44 and Logan Thomas surged 6 yards on third down to RHHS’s 47.

THA reached the Jaguars’ 24-yard line, and on first-and-15, Thomas lofted a scoring pass to Dalton Steedley that capped an 11-play drive. Zach Bond ran for the two-point conversion and an 8-6 lead with 5:05 remaining.

“We were hoping to slow-drip that clock a little bit and hopefully put some long drives together,” THA coach Nic Shuford said.

Back came the Jaguars.

On the third play of the drive, from the 50-yard-line, Williams broke free, avoided two tackles and raced down the left sideline for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but RHHS had a 12-8 lead.

Williams was RHHS’s quarterback last season, but coach Jahmaal Nelson loves the senior’s playmaking potential and wants to get the ball into his hands in the open field.

“Jabari’s got a lot of potential to be a very special player,” Nelson said. “He made some great plays for us tonight.”

Thomas Heyward took over at its 43-yard line with 3:39 remaining. After a 2-yard loss, freshman J.R. Patterson danced around several Jaguars and lost ground before darting to the ride side for a 39-yard gain.

The Rebels had a first down at their 20-yard line, but lost 2 yards on the first play. After an incompletion and a run for no gain, THA faced fourth down on the 22-yard line with 1:32 remaining.

Thomas dropped back to pass but was sacked by Myles Pinckney and Adam Cooper. The threat was over.

Last year, after a competitive first half, RHHS beat Thomas Heyward 35-6. This year the game was competitive until the final moments.

“Both sides fought hard for four quarters,” Nelson said.

“They got after it tonight,” Shuford said.

RHHS (1-0) hosts Estill next Friday; THA (0-1) visits Hilton Head Prep.

Comments