850A9820-2.jpg

Chap Pendergrass celebrates after catching the game-winning touchdown

DUNCAN -- With an unbeaten season on the line and only 14 seconds on the clock, Jay Dillard found Chap Pendergrass for a 14-yard touchdown to lift the Yellow Jackets over Byrnes in a thrilling 28-22 final Friday night.

Most non-region games only dream of such a finish. 

“Our kids fought until the very end. I can’t say enough about our kids and the way our program performed tonight,” said head coach Jason Tone. 

Byrnes (4-5, 2-1) jumped out quickly. The opening kick was returned all the way to the Yellow Jacket 26-yard-line. Three plays later, Gabe Rogers found Elijah Barnes for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead less than 2 minutes in. 

The Rebels didn’t have any more success on offense until insanity ensued in the 4th. 

The 1st half in general didn’t follow the Rebels’ opening-drive success. Three-and-outs and short drives stacked up. 

The Yellow Jackets (9-0, 3-0) finally broke through with 2:47 left in the 1st, with Fletcher Cothran running it in from 7 yards out. 

850A9081.jpg

Fletcher Cothran prances into the endzone

The offenses traded two 3-and-outs apiece before Byrnes put together a lengthy drive midway through the 2nd quarter but made a costly mistake, an ineligible man downfield, which cost the Rebels a 14-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-2. On the following play, the Yellow Jackets swarmed and blocked a potential 31-yard field goal. 

Hanna added another just before the half, a 4-yard touchdown from Kamren Johnson to give the Jackets a 14-7 lead at the break. 

850A9351.jpg

Kamren Johnson celebrates his touchdown with Walt Smith

Both offenses were still a bit shaky to open the new half, but the Yellow Jackets were able to expand their margin roughly 6 minutes in. Kenny Fretwell connected with Knox Whitten for a 28-yard, patented, Hanna play-action touchdown. 

850A9466.jpg

Knox Whitten's 28-yard touchdown from Kenny Fretwell

Both offenses stagnated for the remainder of the 3rd quarter, but Hanna’s defense was in complete control, leaving little question they’d leave Duncan still unbeaten. 

Until … a failed 4th down attempt from the Yellow Jackets’ 35 gave Byrnes some much-needed momentum with 9:53 left in the game. The Rebels marched 65 yards and eventually, Kanai Cook drove it from 9 yards out for Byrnes’ first score since its opening drive. 

Hanna got the ball back with 6:26 to go and drained nearly 4 minutes off the clock, but the Jackets had to punt on 4th-and-4 from their own 36. Byrnes rushed the punt, blocked it, and was set up to tie the game. 

850A9789.jpg

Byrnes blocks punt during 4th quarter

Until … only 2 plays after the blocked punt, Rogers found Cook for an 11-yard touchdown. The Rebels, being Rebels, went with a Philly Special-like 2-point conversion and got it. After a momentum shift of epic proportion, Byrnes now led 22-21. 

But they left too much time on the clock for the Yellow Jackets. 

With 1:57 left, Hanna ran well and dinked and dunked it down the field, ultimately setting up the game-winning Dillard-Pendergrass connection. 

850A9806-2.jpg

Chap Pendergrass' game-winning catch

“We practice it every week. I tell ‘em, we can’t replicate the pressure of an actual two-minute drill but we can replicate how we handle ourselves,” said Tone. “They did a phenomenal job executing and I can’t say enough. I’m almost speechless and that’s hard for me to be.” 

The Yellow Jackets look to complete a 10-0 season as they travel to Hillcrest next week. 

 

General Manager

Caleb is from Clinton but has family ties in Anderson. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in May with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he's not on the sidelines, Caleb enjoys watching sports, playing video games and basketball.