A season of firsts continued for the Ashley Ridge football program as the Swamp Foxes captured their first-ever home playoff victory, defeating Laurens, 48-7, in the first round of the Division II-AAAA playoffs Friday night.
Junior quarterback Jacob Thompson threw for 147 yards and senior Seamus McKinney had four catches for 103 yards to pace the offensive attack.
Ashley Ridge blew open a close game with two quick touchdowns in the first four minutes of the third quarter to cruise to its ninth win in 12 outings.
"I thought the two quick scores in the third quarter were really big because it was a really close game at that point," said Ashley Ridge head coach Kenny Walker. "I thought our defense was great tonight. Laurens comes from a tough region and they're a physical running team but our guys responded very well."
Laurens finished the game with less than 150 total yards, despite a 118-yard effort from junior running back Rodrick Talley.
Vernon Moree got the Swamp Foxes on the board in the first quarter with a 33-yard run, but Laurens answered after an interception and tied the game on a 7-yard pass from Hammer Walker to Alex Mills with 1:41 to play in the first quarter.
Romelo Doctor quickly gave Ashley Ridge the lead for good, scoring on a 38-yard run on the next offensive play.
Ashley Ridge went 80 yards on six plays to open the third quarter with Moree scoring on a 7-yard run with 10:34 to play in the third.
After a Laurens fumble, Doctor scored from 3 yards out with 8:34 to play and the Swamp Foxes led, 28-7.
Three fourth-quarter scores by the backups pushed the final score to 48-7.
"The game was played a lot closer than that final score," said Walker. "It was a tough, physical game. We showed a lot of character in the second half. I'm really proud of the way we played overall."
The win sets up a rematch with Stratford, which beat Ashley Ridge earlier this season, 31-24.
"We have a chance at some redemption, but more importantly it's a chance to move on to the next round, and that's our focus," said Walker. "We know it will be quite a challenge for us, but hopefully we can continue on and get that 10th win."
AR--Vernon Moree 33 run (Dalton Robinson kick)
L--Alex Mills 7 pass from Hammer Walker (Henderson kick)
AR--Romelo Doctor 38 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Moree 7 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Doctor 3 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Zack Armstrong 1 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Shaun Wright 3 run (Robinson kick)
AR--Steven Simmons 40 interception return (kick failed)