HANAHAN – Wade Hampton head coach Jerry Brown said fullback Pernell Maxwell is as good as any running back he’s ever been around.
That is a bold statement coming from Brown, who has seen his share of elite running backs during four-decade career.
Maxwell rushed for 236 yards and scored one touchdown to lead Wade Hampton past Hanahan, 35-6, Friday night in the Class AAA Lower State semifinals at Wiley Knight Stadium.
The Red Devils (10-2) will take on defending state champion Dillon, a 38-2 winner over May River, next Friday for a spot in the Class AAA state title game in Columbia.
Brown, who has more than 260 victories on his resume, including five state championships, said Maxwell is in a class with two of his favorite former players – Berkeley High School's Andre and Bruce Ellington – who helped lead the Stags to a Class AAAA state championship.
Both Andre and Bruce Ellington went on to play at Clemson and South Carolina, respectively, and eventually made it to the NFL. Bruce Ellington is currently playing for the Detroit Lions as a wide receiver.
“This kid dominates the game just like Andre and Bruce did when I was back at Berkeley,” Brown said. “He’s just as good as those guys were and hopefully, he’ll be another one that makes it to the NFL. He’s that good.”
Over the past two seasons, Maxwell has rushed for more than 4,000 yards and scored 60 TDs. Yet, he was left off the rosters of the Shrine Bowl and the North-South All-Star games.
“It’s disgraceful,” Brown said. “I don’t know what more this kid could have done to get picked for one of those games. He dominates every game he plays in, just is like he did tonight.”
Brown would get no argument from Hanahan head coach David Morbitzer.
“He’s a great football player and we knew going in that we had to stop him,” Morbitzer said. “We tried to do everything we could to slow him down, but he’s a great player and he was able to get a couple of big plays against us.”
The bulky 5-9, 210-pound senior might be considered a power back, but he also showed off some nifty feet and had two runs of more than 50 yards during the Red Devils' victory.
“He’s a got a burst when he breaks through the line of scrimmage,” Brown said. “He’s not just going to try and run everyone over, he’s quick enough and elusive enough to get around a tackler, too.”
It was all Wade Hampton early as the Red Devils scored on their first three offensive possessions of the game.
Three plays after a 52-yard run by Maxwell, Joshua Brown scored from 2-yards out to give Wade Hampton an early 7-0 lead.
After a three-and-out from Hanahan, Tyshawn Shaw hauled in a 35-yard TD pass from quarterback Quayshon Williams to give the Red Devils a 14-0 lead with 4:37 left in the opening quarter. A Jylin Pierce 9-yard TD run gave Wade Hampton a 21-0 lead headed into halftime.
The Hawks, who finished the season with a 10-4 mark, took the second half kickoff and marched 66 yards for a score that was capped off by a Gale Ball III 17-yard TD run to get Hanahan right back into the game.
The Hawks recovered a fumble on Wade Hampton’s next possession, but then gave the ball right back to the Red Devils on the next play.
“We’d come out and scored and then got a turnover, I thought we’d kind of change the momentum of the game,” Morbitzer said. “Then we gave it right back to them and we never were able to get back into it.”
Another short TD run from Pierce and a 54-yard burst up the middle for Maxwell and the game was over.
Brown’s return to the Lowcountry was another success for the veteran coach.
“We sure miss it down here and I was able to see some good friends tonight,” Brown said. “Wade Hampton hasn’t had a great tradition in football. This is the furthest they’ve ever been, so we’re going to enjoy this one before we have to think about Dillon.”