On the first series of Saturday’s Class AAAA championship game, Ridgeland’s Vonn Bell delivered a big hit on Sandy Creek running back Eric Swinney.
Sandy Creek did the delivering the rest of the day.
Getting four first-half touchdowns from sophomore running backs Swinney and Delvin Weems, Sandy Creek won its third state title in four years, winning 45-10 to finish 15-0 and complete the season ranked No. 1 from start to finish.
“It’s a blessing,” said Swinney, who finished with 64 yards on 10 carries. “There were people who doubted us and didn’t think we could do it, but here we are. We’re state champions.”
The Patriots outgained Ridgeland 473-272. Cole Garvin passed for 249 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Wilson, who had two catches for 81 yards. Junior receiver Demarre Kitt finished with six catches for 85 yards.
“We jumped on the board real quick and it felt good,” said Garvin. “Defense played great all night long. I think we played a great game tonight.”
Weems rushed for 96 yards on 10 carries.
The Patriots, who won the AAAA title in 2009 and the AAA crown in 2010, left little doubt in this one, which finished with a running clock in the fourth period under mercy rules.
Ridgeland (13-2) came in averaging 352 rushing yards per game but managed just 201 Saturday. Panther running back Darrell Bridges, who came in with 2,301 rushing yards and averaging 9 yards per carry, gained 93 yards on 23 carries.
“Our defense played good tonight,” said Sandy Creek defensive lineman Spencer Roberts. “Ridgeland came out strong and hard, and we just had to be physical the whole night. We knew we could get it done. We just had to all stay focused. Our offense was incredible.”
The Patriots scored on five of their six first-half possessions.
Sandy Creek started fast, moving 63 yards in four plays for a touchdown on the opening possession. Garvin connected with Wilson for a 44-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage, and three plays later Swinney bulled over Bell at the goal line for the touchdown.
“He pasted me pretty good on that first one and he told me it was going to be all night,” said Swinney. “I told him I was going to get him back.”
After stopping the Panthers on downs late in the first period, Sandy Creek drove to its second score. Delvin Weems’ 30-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 78-yard drive and gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead.
Mitchell McMillin’s 35-yard field goal made it 17-0.
A 54-yard punt return by Kitt set up the Patriots’ third touchdown, an 11-yard run by Weems that gave Sandy Creek a commanding 24-0 lead.
The Patriots converted a Ridgeland turnover into quick points just before the half to make it 31-0. After Spencer Roberts recovered at the Ridgeland 40, Garvin hit Kit with a 39-yard pass, and Swinney scored from a yard out.
Ridgeland’s lone touchdown came on a 38-yard pass from Bridges to Bell with 2:52 left.
Ridgeland 0 0 3 7 – 10
Sandy Creek 7 24 7 7 – 45
SC – Eric Swinney 8 run (Mitchell McMillin kick)
SC – Delvin Weems 30 run (McMillin kick)
SC – FG McMillin 35
SC – Weems 11 run (McMillin kick)
SC – Swinney 1 run (McMillin kick)
SC – Kyle Wilson 37 pass from Cole Garvin (McMillin kick)
R – FG Evan Courtney 29
SC – Justin Sumpter 21 pass from Trey Walker (McMillin kick)
R – Vonn Bell 38 pass from Darrell Bridges (Courtney kick)