It was a game Bryan County needed to win if it was going to put itself in position to win its first ever region championship in football and the Redskins were going to have to do it without leading rusher Austin Clemons. Clemons suffered a shoulder sprain last week at Metter and Coach Cherard Freeman said the decision was made at the beginning of the week to hold him out against Screven County.
As it turned out Clemons wasn’t missed as senior Jacari Carney showed he was more than capable of stepping in as he ran for 220 yards on 34 carries and a touchdown—he had another called back---to lead No. 10 Bryan County to a 34-13 Region 3A-D1 win over the Gamecocks Friday night at a rain-splattered Redskins Stadium. The win left the Redskins (7-1, 2-0), who are idle this week, standing alone at the top of the region standings with only winless Savannah High (0-6, 0-2) and Claxton (2-5, 1-0) left to play.
Bryan County will be a heavy favorite in those games both of which will be played at home.
The game with Savannah was originally scheduled as an away game but it has been moved to Bryan County.
In region games this week Savannah is at Screven (2-5, 0-1) and Claxton is at Metter (3-5, 1-1).
“It feels good to get the win,” Carney said. “I got tired a couple of times but I just knew I had to push through. We tried to take care of the ball.”
The wet, slick ball was a problem for both teams and it especially made punts an adventure.
Screven took an early 7-0 lead when Kashard Prescott scored on a 37yard scoop-and-run when punter Kris Martin could not handle a bouncing snap.
“We talked about it at halftime,” Freeman said. “We told them it was raining for both teams. It’s not just wet when we’ve got the ball. We told them we had to continue to do what we do.
“Screven has a good football team – I don’t want to take anything away from them – but we had seven turnovers and lost five of them.”
Carney had two fumbles, losing both, but Freeman said that did not take anything away from his performance.
“This game was big but we knew Jacari could carry the load for us,” said Freeman of the 5-foot-7, 165-pound senior’s performance. “We’ve been waiting for him to have a breakout game and he did tonight despite the two fumbles.
“I don’t know if that (fumbles) was nerves but he played really well. He came through in the clutch for us and that’s what you have got to have in a good football team.”
The Redskins were able to tie it with 10:05 left in the second quarter thanks to a Screven miscue on a punt.
Bryan County got possession at the 10-yard line when the Gamecocks punter kneeled while fielding a bouncing snap. Three plays later quarterback Sean Kelly Hill scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 4-yard run.
Bryan County had to go only 34 yards on its next possession to take the lead for good.
Sophomore Anndreas Mckinny scored on a 1-yard run when Hill faked a pitch to Carney and handed off to McKinny up the middle.
Carson Nunn made it a 21-7 game on a 7-yard run in the third quarter to cap a 50-yard drive but two plays later the Gamecocks stunned the Redskins when quarterback Gatlin Scott hit a wide-open TaCorey Grant on a 77-yard bomb with 5:23 on the clock.
From that point on the Bryan County defense took over as it limited Screven to only nine yards in the final 17 minutes of game.
Carney scored on a 7-yard run at the 7:50 mark in the fourth and Hill put an exclamation point on it when he returned a fumble 10 yards for a touchdown.
In addition to Hill’s fumble recovery for a score Elijah Mincey had an interception and Luke Holcombe, playing linebacker in place of Clemons, had a fumble recovery.
Tanner Ennis had an interception return for a touchdown negated by a roughing the passer penalty.