The May River Sharks have been road warriors in these 2019 playoffs, but Friday night the visiting Dillon Wildcats stole that distinction, fending off the home Sharks 35-28 to advance to the Class 3A state championship.
May River’s first Lower State final was an unfortunate end to an outstanding year for Rodney Summer’s program.
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Three first half turnovers put the Sharks in a massive early hole. On the first pass of the game, Dillon’s Daizion Alford picked off Ahmad Green’s pass and returned it 37 yards to open the scoring and set the tone for the first half.
With the Sharks driving down the field trailing 14-7, a high snap fell from Green’s hands to the ground, and came into the arms of Dillon defender Travon Johnson, who took the ball all the way to the May River 2, where Tyquan King punched it in the next play.
And then the trifecta. A fumble inside the Dillon 30-yard line took away another Shark opportunity, and the home team found themselves trailing 28-7 at the halftime break.
After a key opening stop by the Shark defense, May River attacked quickly down the field with several Donovan Ling and Green runs. Green lost the ball again inside the Dillon 10, but teammate Terry Fields pounced on it in the end zone to avoid yet another giveaway and cut the Wildcat lead.
That was the last we saw of Green in this game, as he limped off the field following the wild scoring play, but the Sharks were far from done.
The resilient home team recovered an onside kick and relied on Rod Grant’s legs again and again until he capped off an impressive drive with a touchdown on fourth and 1, pulling the Sharks within one score. The Wildcats struck back with a 14-play drive, eating up clock starting in the third and ending nearly halfway through the fourth quarter with seven points.
Fields took the ensuing kickoff to the house, then Grant stopped the Wildcats on fourth and 1 to give May River a shot to tie it up. But backup quarterback Joseph Tapscott and the Sharks were shut down, and Dillon salted away the rest of the clock to punch their ticket to Columbia.
Green led the Sharks on offense, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown. Ling added 105 yards, and Rod Grant pitched in 40 and a score. May River completed just three passes in the contest.
Nemo Squire paced the Wildcats with 94 rushing yards and a TD. The Sharks outgained the Wildcats 313 yards to 286, but the visitors played turnover-free ball, and Dillon was 6 for 11 on third down.
— Wes Kerr, LowcoSports.com