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Saturday, October 29, 2005

SC smells playoffs after 7th win

This is new territory for South Charleston.

The defense set up two late fourth-quarter touchdown runs as the Black Eagles won their sixth straight, a 21-7 decision against Huntington Friday night. A crowd of about 1,200 attended the Class AAA matchup at Oakes Field in South Charleston.

The victory most likely locked up a playoff berth for No. 10 SC (7-2), which will be the first trip to the postseason under fifth-year coach Vernon Redman and the first for the school since winning the state title in 1994. The Black Eagles’ seven wins are the most under the former Andrew Jackson Middle School coach.

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“It feels pretty good,’’ said Redman. “The coaching staff has worked so hard and these kids have been in the weight room. It’s not for me. It’s for the staff and players.’’

“There’s no words I can use to describe it,’’ added SC senior tailback Tommy Spurlock. “We’ve been working for this for so long. It’s just sweet.’’

The win wasn’t an easy task against the Highlanders (2-7), who held SC to 164 total yards and forced two turnovers. SC senior quarterback Shaad Coleman, who was averaging 158 yards per game through the first eight, hit on 9-of-15 passes for only 65 yards with no TDs.

Huntington senior quarterback Heath Thomas capped off an 11-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak that knotted the game at 7-all with 5:49 left in the third quarter.

SC missed out on several golden opportunities in the second half. The Black Eagles stalled at the Huntington 36-yard line after an 11-play march that ended with Spurlock’s run after a bad snap on the punt attempt. Black Eagles junior Ricky Dunham partially blocked a Huntington punt early in the fourth quarter to set up SC at the Huntington 31, but a fumble two plays later gave the ball right back to the Highlanders.

The tide began to turn when Huntington sophomore punter Arron Burns fielded a low snap and was snowed under by a host of Black Eagles at his own 2. One play later, SC senior fullback Tyrone Lang bulled in for a 14-7 edge with 5:26 remaining in the fourth quarter.

On the Highlanders’ next possession, Thomas’ handoff was fumbled and SC senior defensive end Chad Clay recovered at the SC 45. Spurlock sprinted off right tackle for a 55-yard TD on the next play for a 21-7 edge with 3:46 to go.

“We just stuck together,’’ said Spurlock, who finished with 85 yards on nine carries. “There’s no play on the field we can’t make. We put all of our hearts into it.’’

SC’s defense forced a punt on Huntington’s next possession and Black Eagles senior defensive back Will Collins intercepted a pass to put the Highlanders away with 2:02 to go. The Black Eagles’ defense held the Highlanders to 172 total yards, forced three sacks, picked off a pair of passes and recovered a fumble.

“The defensive line stepped up, the linebackers started playing their positions and we started making the hits,’’ said Clay, who finished with two sacks and a fumble recovery.
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For Huntington, junior running back Michael Taylor gained 62 yards on 11 attempts.

“The difference was the fourth quarter,’’ said Huntington coach Richard Williams. “They finally made a big play and we did not respond. We did everything to play with them. I think it’s easily the best team [SC] has had in years. They’ve got such skill people they’re going to give a lot of people trouble.’’

It looked as if the Black Eagles would be able to name their score after sophomore Deion Spurlock, Tommy’s younger brother, returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a score and a 7-0 lead with just 16 ticks off the clock. SC only had three first-half possessions and ended with two punts and a failed fourth down.

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