By J. SCOTT SEWELL
BISHOPVILLE — Robert E. Lee Academy gave out championship rings to the members of its SCISA 2A state championship baseball team in a ceremony before its football game against the Dillon Christian Warriors on Friday at McCutchen Field.
Judging by the way the football team played after the ceremony they may need to get a re-order ready.
REL dominated Dillon Christian, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and then a 34-0 lead in the second quarter before finally allowing the Warriors to get on the board in what ended up being a 44-20 victory.
The victory marked the Cavaliers’ third consecutive win over Dillon Christian, including a 28-7 victory last season in which they held the Warriors to just 68 yards of total offense.
“Yeah, we jumped on them,” said Cavaliers head coach David Rankin, whose team improved to 3-0 on the season. “We had big time offense last week, but couldn’t put it in the end zone. This week, our emphasis was to finish drives. Our offensive line was blocking really well, and the running backs hit the holes early. Everything went our way in the first quarter.”
Jet Smith, the senior quarterback for the Cavaliers, was the difference maker, connecting on a pair of touchdown passes while adding a rushing touchdown to lead the Cavaliers to a 44-20 victory.
“Jet’s been doing it all year for us,” said Rankin. “He’s our senior leader, and anytime we’ve got the quarterback running game going for us, it’s big.”
REL didn’t waste any time putting points on the board, scoring on a 30-yard pass from Smith to Matthew Johnson just two minutes into the game. The Cavaliers followed that up with a 4-yard touchdown run by Smith three minutes later for the early 14-0 lead.
Dillon Christian fumbled on the first snap of the ensuing possession, and REL promptly marched down the field for another score. Rankin dialed up the perfect play on fourth down and six yards to go, a screen pass from Smith to Drew Watson that Watson took 37 yards to the end zone to give the Cavaliers the 21-0 advantage.
“Drew’s got some breakaway speed,” said Rankin. “He’s a little rabbit out there. He’s quick. We felt like it was there because they were playing man-to-man and it kind of isolated him by himself, and he made the rest happen.”
Senior Christian Olson added the next score for REL on a bruising 29-yard touchdown run, and Keaton Price pushed the score to 34-0 with a 23-yard touchdown run of his own.
The Warriors finally scored with 8:13 remaining in the second quarter when Adam Norman made a highlight reel grab in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to 34-7.
The Cavaliers picked up right where they left off in the second half with Smith leading the offense down the field for another score. This time, it was Reese Hardin finding the end zone on a 9-yard run to push the lead to 41-7.
The Warriors scored twice late in the game. However, it was way too little, way too late.
“Our defense dominated,” said Rankin. “We felt like we would and we did. I’m super proud of them. We put a little wrinkle in just for them and it worked realy well.”
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