TAYLORS — Quailan Pepper blocked a field goal that led to a Travelers Rest touchdown and turned the momentum in the Devildogs’ favor in their 21-20 victory over Eastside at John Carlisle Stadium Friday night.
TR had to hold its collective breath near the end as Alex Woznick’s 46-yard field goal attempt with 23 seconds remaining was plenty long enough but sailed just to the left.
The Devildogs (5-4, 2-4) overcame a 14-0 deficit to defeat the Eagles (5-4, 3-3).
“Our kids have a lot of heart,” TR coach Ray Gould said. “They work hard, they love each other, they work hard for each other and they never give up.
“When you never give up, you give yourself an opportunity no matter what happens. Things go your way. You’re there to make things happen. You’re in the right place at the right time.”
Pepper was definitely in the right place near the end of the third quarter. Eastside lined up for a 42-yard field goal, but Pepper stormed through and got to the ball.
“I saw the gap open up, and I took off running full speed, jumped and just blocked it,” Pepper said.
The ball bounced right to Chris Gomia, who was behind everybody and headed toward the end zone.
“That’s a guy you’re not going to catch,” Gould said.
Ryan Jackson added the point-after kick, and Travelers Rest was even at 14-14 with 1:44 left in the third quarter.
TR stopped Eastside on downs and took possession at its 41-yard line. With the help of a 40-yard run by Xavier Terry, it took the Devildogs only four plays to score. Wallace Cruell ran in from the 13, and TR led 21-14 with 11:39 remaining.
Eastside put together a nice drive and had a fourth-and-16 from the Devildogs’ 21. T.J. Gist scrambled around and then hit Michael Gladden for 20 yards.
Gist ran from the 1 on the next play to pull the Eagles to within 21-20. However, a botched snap prevented Eastside from tying the score.
Terry finished with 27 carries for 246 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown run.
“He came through with some big runs to keep the chains moving and keep the clock moving,” Gould said.
Eastside took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Drake Garrett and a 29-yard pass from Gist to Shamarius Rucker.