By EDDIE LITAKER
Special to The Sumter Item
Irmo High School’s best offense against Crestwood in their scrimmage in the 38th Annual Sumter Sertoma Football Jamboree on Friday at Memorial Stadium was an opportunistic defense.
The Yellow Jackets recorded two pick-6 interception returns for touchdowns, including one on the first play from scrimmage, in the first 12-minute period and added a long touchdown run in the second period to come away with a 21-0 win in a matchup shortened by a lightning delay and subsequent thunderstorm.
It ended up being the only one of the three scheduled scrimmages to be played. The others were Sumter against Dutch Fork and Lakewood versus Lee Central, and they were canceled.
Junior quarterback Clayton Feagin, leading the Crestwood offense from its own 15-yard line, saw his first pass attempt land in the waiting arms of Lyndon Johnson, who rambled about 20 yards untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 Irmo lead with just 12 seconds coming off the clock.
Crestwood head coach Roosevelt Nelson said early-game jitters could have played a role in the interceptions thrown by his junior signal caller.
“First of all, it’s a scrimmage and the quarterback has got to calm down,” Nelson said. “Turnovers are unacceptable. We can’t turn the ball over, not for pick-6s. That just put us in a bind, 14-0.”
The Knights managed two first downs on their next possession, one on a penalty and the second on a 13-yard Tony Raymond run. Crestwood advanced from its 44 to the Irmo 19 before the drive stalled, with the Yellow Jackets taking over at their 20.
An 11-yard Isaiah Jackson run on the drive’s first play would give Irmo its only first down of the opening quarter, but the Knight defense would stiffen and force a punt. Two plays later, the Yellow Jacket defense would strike again as Javeon Carter picked off a Feagin pass and returned it about 50 yards down the far sideline for a 14-0 Irmo lead at the 7:16 mark.
The teams each possessed the ball two times and traded punts through the remainder of the opening stanza.
The only score of the abbreviated second quarter came on a 55-yard run by Jayon Chambers that gave the Yellow Jackets a 21-0 with 6:48 to go. Irmo quarterback Dylan Williams broke off a 22-yard run to set up Chambers’ score, giving the Yellow Jackets their two longest plays from scrimmage in their final possession.
“I think defensively we were playing good football,” Nelson said. “The guys were swarming, making plays and getting tackles for losses. We gave up basically one long run defensively. In the kicking game we had a couple of good punts, but I think defensively we are playing good ball.”
The Knights got off two plays in their next possession before a mandated 30-minute lightning delay was called for with 5:39 showing on the clock. The teams did not take the field again as play was halted for the evening after the severe thunderstorm that followed the initial lightning.
“I think when we did settle down and focus on the run game, we were able to move the ball down the field,” Nelson said.
Running backs Raymond, Jaice Calderon and Tyjuan Wiley all saw touches out of the backfield for the Knights, helping to move the chains for five first downs.
“We’ve got three backs that can get the ball down and do good things,” Nelson said. “We’re going to lean on those guys. They’re all underclassmen. Tony’s a junior, Jaice is a sophomore and Wiley is a junior, so we feel pretty good about those three backs.”
Nelson said improved quarterback play, cutting down on turnovers and not surrendering the big play on defense would be areas to work on for the Knights as they prepare for a trip to West Florence on Friday to open the 2019 regular season.
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