From staff reports
ROCK HILL – Sumter High School scored late in the fourth quarter to defeat Rock Hill 28-21 in its football season opener on Friday at District Three Stadium.
For the second consecutive Friday, Sumter High School’s varsity football team was facing a lightning delay before its scheduled start time and hoping to take the field for action.
The Gamecocks, whose scheduled matchup against Dutch Fork last Friday in the Sumter Sertoma Football Jamboree was wiped out by lightning and a subsequent thunderstorm, were waiting out the elements at Rock Hill’s District Three Stadium. Sumter outlasted Rock Hill 33-23 in last season’s opener at Memorial Stadium, with both teams going on to win region titles before bowing out in the second round of the 5A state playoffs.
After a few lightning occurrences around the stadium area added time to the initial 30-minute delay of the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start, the contest kicked off at 8:52 p.m., with Tony Dinkins-McCall taking the opening kick on a bounce and returning it 85 yards to give the Gamecocks a quick 6-0 lead. The subsequent point-after kick attempt was unsuccessful after a bad snap.
Rock Hill failed to gain a first down on its initial possession and ran into trouble on the subsequent punt attempt. Deshawn McKnight broke through the line for the block, with O’Donnell Fortune scooping up the football and returning it 12 yards for the score. Jordan McGee added the 2-point conversion run to push the lead to 14-0 with about a minute off the clock.
Sumter’s defense kept constant pressure on Rock Hill quarterback Kobe Thurmond, resulting in another quick punt. This one traveled just five yards, giving the Gamecocks excellent field position at the Bearcat 48. Four plays later, Sumter quarterback Hayden Vasquez found Marcus Lane for a 29-yard touchdown pass, pushing the Gamecocks’ lead to 21-0.
That lead would hold through the end of the first quarter, with Rock Hill managing just one first down in that span. Sumter began the second with excellent field position and drove deep before the Bearcat defense held at the 3. Rock Hill’s offense then drove 69 yards, cutting the lead to 21-7 on a 14-yard pass from Thurmond to Anthony Arnette.
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