Cherokee – Friday’s edition of the Swain Cherokee rivalry turned into one of the best of the entire series. Both teams thrilled their fanbases and played great football.
With their backs squarely against the wall, the Maroon Devils rose to the occasion and played some of their best football of the season, especially in the second half. Swain erased a 34-13 halftime Cherokee lead by outscoring the Braves 30-13 over the final two quarters to take a 43-40 win.
In the first half the Braves controlled the time of possession and pace of play with a brutal ground game.
Cherokee’s Tso Smith put the Braves out in front with a touchdown run with 5:08 left in the 1st quarter. The Smith run capped a 58 yard 11 play drive. The extra point gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.
But the Devils would show their first sign of how resilient they have become by answering on their possession. Josiah Glaspie raced 74 yards down the Swain sideline for the Devils first score. Oliver Reyes kicked the extra point to tie the game.
Tso Smith took over for the Braves. The Cherokee quarterback would rush for three more touchdowns in the first half, giving him four touchdowns before halftime. Smith had two on back to back Cherokee possessions, one was a 1 yard run and the other a 50 yard sprint. Those two touchdowns would push the Braves lead to 21-7.
Swain answered with a Josh Collins pass to Reese Winchester from 10 yards out to pull the Devils 21-13.
Cherokee then used the final possession of the first half and the opening possession of the second half to score, building an eventual 34-13 lead to open the second half.
The Maroon Devils answered once again, this time with two touchdowns. The first came on a Josiah Glaspie run from 3 yards out and the second coming on Josh Collins to Reese Winchester touchdown pass from 22 yards out.
Cherokee bounced back, scoring on a Tso Smith to Mato Grant pass covering 16 yards. Leaving the score 40-28 in favor of Cherokee.
Josiah Glaspie scored with 6 minutes remaining in the game on a 7 yard run pulling the Devils to within 5 at 40-35.
The Maroon Devils took the lead with 2:52 left in the game. Reese Winchester tossed a 51 yard touchdown pass to Josh Collins. Then Collins found Nathan Bogdonawicz for the two point conversion to give Swain a 43-40 lead.
Josiah Glaspie went over 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. Glaspie finished with 126 yards on 10 carries, including 3 touchdowns. Winchester was 6 of 12 for a career high 149 yards and a touchdown. Aiden Southards had a career high 3 catches for 72 yards.
On defense the Devils defense had a tremendous second half. Senior Blake Sain had a game high 17 tackles, including 1 1/2 for loss. Josh Collins finished with 13 tackles, NseUffort had 11 while Nathan Bogdonawicz and Brandon Frost had 10 each.