Green Wave earns trip to Columbia

Gaffney's plan to reach the state title game was to limit Summerville's time with the ball in Friday night's semi-final game. However, the Indians gave the Green Wave the ball one time too many and now Summerville will travel to Columbia to face Byrnes in the Division 1-AAAA football championship at noon Saturday.

Gaffney took a six-point lead in Friday's game at Memorial Stadium with just under three minutes to play, but Summerville answered with a 66-yard scoring drive to pull out a 23-22 win and advance to the state championship. Green Wave quarterback Reid McCollum, who was 16-of-32 passing for 224 yards on the night) completed passes to five different receivers on the drive.

"Reid did what he had to do," Summerville Coach John McKissick said. "They all did. It was a great drive."

The Gamecock-bound quarterback started with a 9-yard pass to A.J. Green (7 catches for 74 yards, 3 tackles, 1 interception and 1 breakup) to move the sticks. Then, he connected with Matthew Galbreath on third-and-10 for 15 yards. Next, he hit Marcus Morris across the middle and Morris added a nice run to the Indian 11-yard line. Finally, McCollum went to LaQuan Gilliard, who caught a bullet in the end zone with 1:01 remaining to tie the game at 22. Gilliard had dropped some passes earlier in the game, but his hands were true when it counted most. He led all receivers in the game, making six catches for 101 yards.

"When we were in the huddle, I told Reid I'd been open all day on that pass and that if he put it there, I would catch it," Gilliard said. "He stuck with me and threw it on point."

Kicker David Behr, one of several members of the team who suffered through a 33-32 loss to Gaffney in the 2005 state title game, put the extra-point kick through the uprights for the one-point Summerville victory. He also hit a clutch 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of Friday's game.

"Payback is sweet," Behr said. "Being able to pull it together against Gaffney is great. Now we've got one last thing to do. Hopefully, we can bring the trophy back for the boys who couldn't go (to Columbia) last year."

Gaffney didn't give up without a fight. After Summerville's go-ahead score, the Indians returned the kickoff to their 40-yard line. With a quick pass, the team moved to the 36-yard line of Summerville, needing only a field goal for the win. But, Wave defensive back Kyrie McClellan picked off an Indian pass just outside the 20 to end the Gaffney threat.

"We had a tough game," McKissick said. "Gaffney came to play and it seemed like we made a lot of mistakes. But, we won so I'm happy for the kids."

The Gaffney defense was tough and so was the Indian running attack. After limiting Summerville to a mere 7 yards on the Wave's first possession, the Indians drove 45 yards to score. Running back Steffen Foster capped the drive with his first of two touchdowns, a 3-yard run into the end zone with 3:18 remaining in the opening quarter. Josh Harris made his first of two extra-point kicks on the night for a 7-0 Indian lead.

Foster finished the night with 76 of Gaffney's 200 yards on the ground to lead all rushers. Summerville's Tyler Veronee finished with 73 rushing yards.

The Wave answered Gaffney's first TD with a 57-yard scoring drive. Green got the team going with a one-handed acrobatic catch good for 18 yards. Gilliard then made a catch in traffic, took a hit and stumbled forward to add some yards to the 34-yard play. Willie Thomas capped the drive with a 4-yard run into the end zone on a misdirection play. Behr made the extra-point kick.

The Indians stayed with their ground attack and two possessions later, rushed for 65 yards and a score. Foster capped the drive with a 4-yard TD run with 6:55 remaining in the first half. The Wave answered by driving 61 yards, but a fumble on a pitch on second-and-goal was recovered by Gaffney, allowing the Indians to take a 14-7 lead into the half.

The Wave opened the third quarter with a 70-yard scoring drive sustained by some untypical runs by McCollum. Daniel Edmonson capped the drive with a TD run from 2 yards out. However, the snap on the extra-point kick was bad and Gaffney kept a 14-13 lead.

Behr hit his 27-yard field goal with 6:05 remaining in the game to give Summerville a two-point lead. Gaffney answered with a 60-yard scoring drive that was sustained by a huge third-down play.

On a sack by Ben Ebert (12 tackles), Summerville had backed up the Indians for a third-and-13. However, Gaffney QB Joe Craig (94 passing yards) then found receiver Jeffrey Brown wide open on the right hash mark for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Craig followed with a two-point conversion pass to Foster for the 22-16 Indian lead.

Summerville answered by showing composure on a two-minute drill, driving for the winning score to improve its record to 13-1 on the year. It was the 556th win in McKissick's illustrious career. Gaffney fell to11-3 with the loss.

Contact Roger Lee at 873-9424, ext. 213 or rlee@journalscene.com.