McCloud carries Jackets to next round
NORTH AUGUSTA 23, BEAUFORT 10
By T.J. Lundeen
The North Augusta High School football team defeated Beaufort 23-10 to advance to the semifinals of the Class AAAA, Division II playoffs.
The Jackets (12-1) used a dominating defense and running game to dispatch the Eagles (9-4) at the Jackets Nest.
“Our defense played lights out tonight,” Dan Pippin, North Augusta head coach, said. “We gave up that one long run to start the second half, and they gave up a field goal. That interception wasn’t on the defense; it was on me for calling a stupid play.”
Quarterback Trib Reece, who threw three touchdown passes to build an advantage over Beaufort, credited the play of his defense for stopping the Eagles’ attack.
“Our defense stepped up huge tonight,” he said. “They made great stops the whole night. I appreciate what they were able to do, when the offense was struggling.”
Senior running back Willie McCloud carried the Jackets’ offense for much of the game, rushing for more than 200 yards on the night.
“Willie, he put the team on his back,” Reece said. “He did what he had to do to make sure we moved on.”
Pippin said McCloud was coached all week to “press the line of scrimmage.”
“He pressed the line pretty well,” Pippin said. “The offensive line did pretty good. There’s some stuff we have to correct.”
McCloud credited his play on not wanting to end his high school career.
“When you realize this could be your last game, you give it a little more,” he said. “This is sudden death, you just wanna play your best all the time. They (Beaufort) were crashing hard on one side of the line, leaving holes that a truck could go through. I was able to cut back and take off through them.”
North Augusta will hit the road for the semifinals, playing at Northwestern, a team that played for a state title a year ago.
“I’m going to try to enjoy this until I hit the top of the stairs (going to the locker room),” Pippin said. “Then, I’ll get started on watching film from where we played Northwestern in the past. They’re a top-20 team in the country and the number one team in the state. I’ve got a lot of respect for what they do up there. It’s an honor just to be practicing on Thanksgiving.”
Reece called the game “huge.”
“We’ve got to start getting ready for next week right now,” he said. “It’s a big week, a huge game.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.