During its 10 possessions in Friday's football game against West Florence High School, Sumter rolled up 342 yards of total offense and punted just one time while holding the Knights to 139 yards of offense. That, however, did not translate into a victory for the Gamecocks.
Five turnovers, a missed field goal and turning the ball over on downs after a first down and goal from the WF 4-yard line added up to a 14-10 loss for SHS on its homecoming at Memorial Stadium.
"It was the same old story for us," said Sumter head coach Paul Sorrells, whose team lost its third straight game to fall to 2-6 overall and 0-2 in Region VI-4A. "We just made too many mistakes, turning the ball over, penalties at bad times. We've just got to find a way to quit doing these types of things."
Sorrells was happy with the way his team responded after taking a 44-0 beating at the hands of South Florence last week.
"We played hard the entire game, gave a great effort," he said. "We're not a great team though, and we can't make the mistakes we're making and expect to win. I've got to do damage control where we keep our heads up."
The Gamecocks had a chance to jump out on top when the Knights, who improved to 4-4 and 1-1, fumbled on their first offensive play of the game with SHS recovering at the WF 25. On third and goal from the 6, Sumter quarterback Frank Gillen, making his first start of the season, was picked off in the end zone by Eric Driggers.
The first five possessions of the game between the teams ended with turnovers. The first possession that didn't end with a turnover came when the Gamecocks drove to a first and goal at the West Florence 7.
A holding penalty stalled the drive, though, and it ended with Ethan Epps missing a 27-yard field goal.
On Sumter's next possession, it had a first down at the WF 11 following a 31-yard run by Reginald Jones. Another holding penalty stalled the drive, but Epps connected on a 32-yard field goal this time to make it 3-0 with 4:54 left in the first half.
"We just had the penalties at the worst times," Sorrells said. "Penalties, missed field goals and turnovers really cost us."
Sumter got the ball back with just under three minutes left before halftime at its 9. After a 21-yard run by Jones moved the ball out to the 30, Sumter went to the air and Gillen was picked off by Darvion Deas. He returned the ball to 6 and running back Jalin Dixon scored on the next play with 1:42 left. Alex Howell's extra point made it 7-3, a lead the Knights took into halftime despite just gaining 23 yards of total offense.
"We just hung in there and hung in there," said West Florence head coach Trey Woodberry, who was playing without four players, including leading rusher Eddie McKenzie, who were suspended after being arrested on drug charges. "This was a big victory because it gets us right back in the hunt for region."
SHS received the second-half kickoff and, after starting at its 20, drove to first and goal at the WF 4. However, three straight runs by Gillen, who had 106 rushing yards on 28 carries, amounted to two yards. After a timeout, Sumter came out in the wildcat with Jones taking the snap in a shotgun. However, there was a bad snap and WF took over at the 18.
Sumter finally got into the end zone with an 11-play, 75-yard drive. It ended with Jones scoring on a six-yard run to make it 10-7 with 9:40 left in the game.
The Knights responded with their only sustained drive of the night, a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Josh Davidson tossed a 26-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eddie Frye. The ball went off the hands of a Sumter defender, the second time that happened on the drive.
"Our defense played great the entire game except for that one drive," Sorrells said. "You can't fault the effort of our defense. They played well enough for us to win."
After having to punt on its next possession, Sumter forced West Florence to punt again with less than two minutes remaining. However, Jason Dozier muffed the punt and the Knights recovered at the SHS 26 and ran out the clock.