By David Shelton
Special to The Post and Courier
With the biggest game of the 2013 football season looming next Friday night against city rival Stratford, one might think the Goose Creek Gators could get caught overlooking West Ashley in Thursday night’s Region 7-AAAA matchup.
That was clearly not the case. After falling behind early, Goose Creek scored 35 unanswered points and improved to 10-0 on the season with a 49-21 thumping of the visiting Wildcats.
Playing without their top two rushers, tailback Caleb Kinlaw and fullback Evan McField, the Gators put their full depth on display. Junior Tyrik Johnson, who was the team’s third-leading rusher with 779 yards this season, posted a career-high effort of 222 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Goose Creek amassed 407 yards rushing and 516 total yards overall.
“This football team has done a great job of playing at a high level each week,” said Goose Creek head coach Chuck Reedy. “We haven’t played our best every week, but we have played well enough to win each week. We’ve been through a stretch where we knew we should win each week, but we always try to play better and improve.”
West Ashley (5-5, 0-3) stunned Goose Creek early, taking the opening drive 74 yards on 15 plays to take a 7-0 lead when running back Marquize Jenkins tossed a 16-yard pass to Thomas Spigner with 5:41 to play in the first quarter.
Goose Creek’s offense needed only 2:41 and seven plays to go 80 yards, tying the game with three minutes left in the quarter on Dantez Bennamon’s 28-yard pass to Deondre Daniels.
The Wildcats got a bit greedy on the first play of their next possession and Pedro Manigault’s pass down the middle was intercepted by Delonzo Prather at the Goose Creek 42. Four plays later, Johnson broke free on a 42-yard touchdown run, giving the Gators a 14-7 lead with 1:17 to play in the first quarter.
After stopping a fourth-down attempt by West Ashley, the Gators took over at their own 27-yard line. Four plays and 53 seconds later, Johnson went 22 yards for a touchdown, upping the lead to 21-7 with 6:23 to play in the first half.
West Ashley threatened to make it a game late in the second quarter but a drive stalled inside the Goose Creek 10. Omar McRae then blocked Caroline Cashion’s 26-yard field goal attempt to end the drive.
Goose Creek’s first possession of the second half lasted about a minute as Johnson took his second carry of the half 59 yards for a touchdown, pushing the advantage to 28-7 with 10:41 to play in the third period.
Johnson scored for a fourth time late in the third, scoring on a six-yard run with 1:11 to play and the Gators led, 35-7.
“Tyrik Johnson is a special back. He has done this all year, but it was interesting to see what he would do getting most of the carries and we certainly saw he was ready to perform,” said Reedy.
West Ashley quarterback Manigault snapped the 35-point run with a 13-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. But Johnson was not done as he went over the 200-yard mark with a two-yard run with 8:57 remaining in the game for a 42-14 lead.
Goose Creek’s backups tacked on a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and West Ashley added a score in the final seconds.
WA 7 0 0 14—21
GC 14 7 14 14—49
WA – Thomas Spigner 16 pass from Marquize Jenkins (Caroline Cashion kick)
GC – Deondre Daniels 28 pass from Dantez Bennamon (Alex Jacobus kick)
GC – Tyrik Johnson 42 run (Jacobus kick)
GC – Johnson 22 run (Jacobus kick)
GC – Johnson 59 run (Jacobus kick)
GC – Johnson 6 run (Jacobus kick)
WA – Pedro Manigault 13 run (Cashion kick)
GC – Johnson 2 run (Jacobus kick)
GC – Dominique Jefferson 31 run (Jacobus kick)
WA – Anthony Vincelli 30 pass from Manigault (Cashion kick)