ROEBUCK – In a big spot in the first half of Gaffney’s 29-14 win over Dorman, Imari Foster-Boyd knew his team needed him
With his Indians leading Dorman 13-0, and with the Cavaliers out near midfield on a drive, Foster-Boyd took over the game for three plays.
On first down, teammates flushed Dorman quarterback Bryce O’Neal to his right, and he looked for a receiver downfield before Foster-Boyd leapt straight up and erased any throwing lane, forcing an incompletion. That athletic play was followed by back-to-back sacks, both by Foster-Boyd, and what was once a promising drive ended in a punt.
“I’m just an effort player,” Foster-Boyd said. “I’m willing to put my body on the line for my team and do what we’ve got to do. Then it’s just go on to the next play, and hope we can be successful in the long run. We plan on coming out with this defensive effort for the rest of the season, and on executing what we need to do.”
Foster-Boyd’s defensive effort was just one of a bunch of standout plays from Gaffney defenders. He ended the game with 11 total tackles, three sacks, two tackles for loss, a pass break-up, and a quarterback hurry. Jarriel Jefferies had a tackle for loss on the Cavaliers’ first play from scrimmage, a sack on the second series, and brought pressure all night long. Zyon Ratchford added nine tackles, while Andrew Ruppe and Chas Smith had eight each. Caron Foster had four, all individual, with three of those in the Dorman backfield for a loss.
It’s exactly what Indians coach Dan Jones wanted to see, and just what Gaffney needed.
“I just think our defensive line gets after it every night, and we’re able to rotate a few guys in there,” Jones said. “Our secondary is coming along, and then our linebackers are playing well. Andrew Ruppe’s a phenomenal player, and Zyon Ratchford has gotten better week by week. He’s just been tremendous. Those guys have just got to keep playing like we have been.”
Offensively, the Indians showcased what they have all year. Jaiden McDowell rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown, and did an excellent job of taking what the defense allowed. Riley Staton threw for 231 yards and a pair of scores and ran for another. And while standout receiver Emazon Littlejohn didn’t have his usual gamebreaking performance, Jamarcus Smith and Drew Medley stepped up, as each caught touchdowns.
There were plenty of bright spots for the hosts, too. Dorman had perhaps its best passing night of the season, as O’Neal threw for 311 yards. Four Dorman receivers had 60 yards of receiving or more, with Travon Fernandez, Keenan Arcega-Whiteside, KD Hainsworth, and Cason Gilliam all topping that mark. Fernandez caught both Dorman touchdowns, and the Cavaliers had another couple of drives turned away deep in Gaffney territory.
Both teams have a ton to play for headed into next week’s final week of regular-season play. Gaffney will host Byrnes in a battle for first place in Region II-5A, while Dorman can climb to third in the region with a win at rival Spartanburg.