As he stood on the field and talked with fans and media after last Friday night’s 35-21 loss to Easley in his team’s regular season finale, Coach Jeff Tate was asked who and where his Wren Golden Hurricanes would be playing in this week’s opening-round of the State 4-A Division II Playoffs .
“I don’t care (who or) where we’re playing, it doesn’t matter,” he answered over and over . . .
again, “We’re playing (and) I’m not concerned about (who or) where we play.” “We just want to play.”
He and his Golden Hurricanes may not have been concerned (at that moment) over the whos and wheres of their first-round opponent. But they’re probably pretty excited now that they do know who they’ll be playing in their postseason opener.
They’ll be taking on Easley, the very same Green Wave team that ran through, around, over, and past them in running to a 35-21 win last Friday night at Jack King Field.
The Green Wave ground out over 300 yards on the ground, and held Wren to just one touchdown over the first three quarters, in almost matching last year’s 30-21 victory over the Golden Hurricanes.
This Friday’s rematch will be played at Easley’s Brice Field, and most likely will be the final time that the Green Wave will play there before moving to their new school and stadium in 2012.
And ‘Wren Nation’ would like nothing better than to hand Easley a loss in its last game on that historic field .
It would not only allow the Golden Hurricanes to continue in the playoffs, but would also avenge last Friday night’s painful setback.
Easley forced Wren to turn the football over on downs on each of its first two possessions of that game, and the Green Wave followed both of those defensive stands with an offensive score.
Brandaun Addison put the finishing touches on a six-minute series with a two-yard run, Lucas Bowerman added the first of his five extra-points, and Easley had a lead it would never lose.
Andrew Gilstrap then found Bradley Morgan all alone down the seam for a 42-yard touchdown toss that pushed the Green Wave lead to 14-0.
With the home side reeling in shock over that two-score second-quarter deficit, Ty Jefferson delivered some much-needed relief by returning the kickoff 50 yards.
Jonathan Anderson added the point-after, and Wren went into halftime very much in the game, at 14-7.
But Easley took the Golden Hurricanes right back out of it with a dominating third-quarter showing.
The Green Wave began their commanding performance with a 12-play, 84-yard drive that ran off the first six minutes of the quarter.
Braundan Addison capped off the series with a three-yard run, boosting the margin to 21-7.
Patrick Ledbetter got in front of a Wren pass on the next series, and Easley took it ‘to the house’.
Four plays into the drive, C. J. Fuller leaped over a diving defender and darted 14 yards into the end zone, running the score to 28-7.
With the game in its final quarter, the Golden Hurricanes tried to mount a comeback.
QB Caleb McClain highlighted a 64-yard drive that took only five snaps and 44 seconds of clock time.
He fired a 21-yard pass to Brandon Coleman and a 27-yarder to Ty Jefferson before hitting Coleman with a nine-yard scoring strike.
Easley marched back down-field, reaching the Wren-20, before Anthony Berendsen recovered a bad snap to keep the Golden Hurricanes hopes alive.
The ‘Canes got a quick 69-yard gain on a Caleb McClain bomb to Jordan Caldwell at the Green Wave 7.
Levi Bufford finished off the drive with a five-yard run, and it was a 28-21 game.
The Green Wave delivered the deciding blow minutes later, however, as Troy McGowens broke away and sprinted 56 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Wren had 289 yards of total offense, with Caleb McClain going 15-27-2 for 233 yards to top the tally.
The Golden Hurricanes slipped to 8-3 overall with a third-place 4-2 finish in Region I-AAAA.
Easley racked up 354 overall yards, with 312 coming on 65 running plays, as it improved to 10-2 and claimed runner-up honors with a 5-1 standing in Region I-AAAA.