ROCK HILL — Rock Hill spotted Fort Dorchester a 3-0 lead then scored 34-unanswered points to roll past the Patriots, 34-10, in the first round of the Division I-AAAA state football playoffs on Thursday night.
Guided by quarterback Galen Bennett, the Patriots moved the ball methodically during their first drive of the game, before Bennett left the game with a separated shoulder.
The Bearcats' defense tightened up inside the 20 and Terrance Bingham came up with a big hit that knocked Bennett out of the game on a Patriots third-and-5 play from the 17-yard line, forcing Fort Dorchester to settle for a field goal.
The Patriots (7-5) were a much different team without their starting QB. The Fort played the first four games without Bennett and his team went 1-3.
"We had a good game plan. It just went to pot after (Bennett) was injured," Fort Dorchester coach Steve LePrad said.
Fort Dorchester gained 63 yards on its opening drive, then were held to 30 yards of total offense until midway through the fourth quarter.
Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery agreed that the loss of Bennett made the game much easier for his team.
"That was a big part of it. We were able to key in on their tailback and we picked up the intensity on defense. We did a good job," Montgomery said. "We knew the starting quarterback was a runner. Once he was out we just concentrated on getting 11 guys to the football," Bearcats linebacker Mike McClure said.
"Rock Hill has great speed but we thought we could knock them off the ball with our size," LePrad said.
Rock Hill's Jatavius Stewart ran for two touchdowns and caught a third score to lead the Bearcats offensively. He finished just shy of a season-best with 122 yards rushing.
The Bearcats (10-2) will get the Hillcrest-Irmo winner next week.
FD—Josh Hall 34 field goal
RH—Jatavius Stewart 2 run (Brandon Berger kick)
RH—Jerante Hood 2 run (Berger kick)
RH — Hood 21 run (Berger kick)
RH — Stewart 51 run (kick failed)
RH — Stewart 10 pass from Randall Dixon (Berger kick)
FD — Tyler Holmes 29 run (Hall kick)