SCISA Class A state semifinal: Pee Dee 42, Thomas Heyward 34
The winning streak — and the season — is over.
Thomas Heyward’s quest for a SCISA Class A football state title ended Friday night in a 42-34 loss to visiting Pee Dee.
The Rebels (9-3) led 26-14 at halftime, but the Golden Eagles scored four second-half touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 4:27 remaining in the game when Golden Eagles quarterback Jake Lane (344 yards, five touchdowns) hit Caleb Oakley for a 36-yard touchdown and the extra point gave Pee Dee (8-4) a 35-34 lead.
The loss snaps the Rebels’ eight-game winning streak and denies them a trip to next Saturday’s state-title game in Columbia. The last time Thomas Heyward reached the state championship game was in 2012.
The school’s last state crown was in 1981.
“It’s awful,” senior Zach Bond said. “We had a great run, but the goal is to win it all.”
Thomas Heyward, Region 2’s top seed, trailed 28-26, but took a 34-28 lead with 2:09 to go in the third quarter after an eight-play, 32-yard drive culminated in quarterback Logan Thomas’ 1-yard rushing touchdown. J.R. Patterson ran for the two-point conversion.
Patterson, who returned after missing the second half of last week’s win because of an elbow injury, had 167 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
The Rebels maintained momentum early in the fourth quarter when John Hewlett’s tackle stopped Pee Dee’s fourth-and-4 attempt from THA’s 46-yard line and on the Eagles’ next possession — with 8:02 remaining — their fourth-and-2 pass attempt from THA’s 48-yard line fell incomplete.
Thomas, a senior, who also played the majority of the game at safety, hurt his left leg making a tackle near THA’s sideline during the series and missed the remainder of the game.
“Logan’s a big part of this team,” Bond said. “I hate for it to end the way it did.”
On the Rebels’ ensuing possession, they lost 5 yards on a fourth-and-2 rushing attempt that gave Pee Dee the ball at the Rebels’ 49 with 6:24 to go.
Pee Dee, the No. 2 seed from Region 1, quickly gained 13 yards on three plays before Lane found Oakley on second down for the go-ahead TD.
Trailing 35-34, the Rebels had possession at their 41 and Bobby Payne’s 26-yard run put THA at Pee Dee’s 33 with 4:12 to go.
After Patterson recovered a fumble at the 38, he dashed 9 yards on the next play. After an incomplete pass, THA faced fourth-and-6 from the 29, but Payne lost 14 yards and the Eagles took over.
Pee Dee iced the game with a Lane 30-yard TD pass to McKinley Smith on fourth-and-9 with 35 seconds remaining.
“Couple of plays here and there, it’s a different game,” THA coach Nic Shuford said.
Thomas Heyward started strong. It took the first possession 63 yards for a score, with Patterson scoring on a 26-yard run. He had 100 yards on his first four carries.
Pee Dee answered with a 15-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a Lane 7-yard TD pass to Connor Gasque.
Utilizing slants and screen passes, Lane was efficient, connecting on 29 of 41 passes. Lane has thrown for 41 TDs this season.
“They had a great game plan and executed well, that’s for sure,” Shuford said. “They had a lot of weapons over there.”
Payne’s 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and C.J. Cleland’s extra point gave THA a 14-7 first-quarter lead. Zack Black’s interception in the second quarter set up Patterson’s 9-yard rushing score that pushed the lead to 20-7.
The Eagles scored with 1:10 remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 20-14, but Thomas hit Joseph Gibson for a 15-yard TD pass with 3.2 seconds to go in the half for a 26-14 lead.
THA’s first third-quarter possession ended in a punt and Pee Dee gained momentum with a touchdown five minutes into the half that cut its deficit to 26-21.
Shuford said he enjoyed coaching the Rebels this season. The team earned the school’s most wins since 2012’s team went 12-2 and won its first region crown since 2007.
“This is a great group, a lot of different personalities on this team,” Shuford said. “They all came together and became a family. It was fun to watch.”