AIRPORT 14, SOUTH AIKEN 17
In a low-scoring game, South Aiken's defense got one final stop to seal the win for the T-Breds.
South Aiken's defense forced an incomplete pass on a Airport fourth down to give the ball back to its offense with 1:40 left in the game. Gage O'Banion had a 17-yard run and then quarterback E.J. Hickson knelt twice to run the clock to triple zeros.
South Aiken started strong, scoring on the second play from scrimmage after a good kickoff return from O'Banion to the Airport 40-yard line. Hickson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Burns. After the extra point from Ethan Youmans, the T-Breds took a 7-0 lead 58 seconds into the game.
After that, the teams traded punts until Dontavious Whitfield picked off a pass from Airport quarterback Tyler Dasher. The T-Breds could not capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt. On the ensuing drive, the Eagles tied the game after a 39-yard touchdown pass from Dasher to Eddie Staley. Guy Epps made the extra point to even the score at 7-7.
On their next drive, the Eagles drove down the field again and Immanuel Bovain rushed into the end zone from 7 yards out. After the Epps' extra point, Airport had a 14-7 lead.
However, South Aiken put together a drive right before halftime and tied the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hickson to Braylen Bowers.
Coming out of the half, Airport got the ball first but was unable to get a first down. After a short punt, South Aiken drove into Eagles territory and Youmans kicked a 29-yard field goal to give the T-Breds a 17-14 lead that would last for the rest of the game.
After that, both teams struggled to put first downs together. With 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Dominick Hodges got the T-Breds defense its second interception of the game. South Aiken couldn't pick up a first down and punted, giving the Eagles the ball with 2:26 to go and a chance to tie the game.
However, the T-Breds stood strong on defense to snuff out any hope for the Eagles.
South Aiken dealt with some injuries during the game, with senior receiver Burns only playing a few snaps and senior receiver Jalen Raysor getting injured early. After the game, South Aiken head coach Chris Hamilton said he was proud of how his younger sophomore receivers stepped up. He also praised the defense.
"Our defense stepped up like they have all year," Hamilton said.
Hamilton also spoke about the importance of playing hard each week.
"We’ve just got to go one week at a time," Hamilton said. "Don’t take anybody for granted because it’s just that kind of year. Just be happy we’re playing and give our best effort every time against whoever we play."
For Airport, Bovain ended the night with 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Dasher completed eight of 21 passes for a touchdown and two interceptions, while rushing eight times for 6 yards. Eddie Staley caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
For South Aiken, Hickson completed 16 of 25 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing 11 times for 7 yards. O'Banion had 45 yards on 15 carries. Bowers caught five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.
With this win, the T-Breds keep themselves in position for a playoff spot.
South Aiken will travel to play at Midland Valley next week, while Airport will have a home game against Chesnee.