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Pickens County marches into Class 1A semifinals


Pickens County quarterback Devonte Simon (7) runs the ball during the state quarterfinal game against Berry High School at Pickens County High School on Friday. (Photo by Erin Nelson)


 

REFORM | A 46-12 halftime deficit was too much for the Berry Wildcats to overcome as Pickens County won at home 53-32 in the AHSAA Class 1A quarterfinals Friday night.

Jermarcus Brown accounted for five touchdowns in the first half and ended the game with 272 all-purpose yards for the Tornadoes.

The Tornadoes were the benefactors of explosive special teams plays, such as a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by Devonte Simon and an 82-yard kick return for a touchdown from Brown. Brown also returned a kick for 42 yards to set up his 46-yard touchdown run on the next play.

“We take pride in our special teams,” Pickens County coach Patrick Plott said. “We want people to kick the ball to us. That’s why we kept rekicking” (after illegal procedure penalties from Berry kicking the ball out of bounds).

Simon also made big plays with his feet as a quarterback, busting off runs of 27 and 28 yards.

“He’s a special kid,” Plott said. “He’s been doing that for us all year. We didn’t do anything different, we just executed.”

Plott also thought the defense suppressed Berry well.

“We played well up front,” he said. “We kept their No. 4 (Terrance “Tank” Hollingsworth) intact and that was our main goal of the night.”

Hollingsworth still ran for 131 yards and a touchdown in only the first half, missing the second half due to injury.

“He’s a phenomenal talent,” Berry coach Danny Raines said. “He’s had a great year for us.”

Injuries to Hollingsworth and starting quarterback Maken Potter forced Raines to shift his team for the second half, adjustments he lauded his players for making.

“They laid it on the line,” Raines said. “Every one of those kids was doing something they had never done position-wise and they kept fighting against a great football team.

“(A.J. Johnson) did great, Clancy Brown did great, Weston Bonner hasn’t played much quarterback for us this year and he did great. J.C. Finch was doing a great job getting signals in for us. It was really a team effort.”

On the play that injured him, Potter found Finch for a 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Clancy Brown added a 27-yard rushing touchdown and Johnson had a 22-yard score of his own. Berry’s Jeremiah Chaney recovered an onside kick and also recovered a fumble and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown.

“I’m proud of them,” Raines said. “We’ve got a great group of kids here. I hate it’s come to an end. I’ve been blessed to work with these kids and I love these kids.”

Pickens County got one passing touchdown from Simon to Jermarcus Brown for 29 yards and a 3-yard rushing touchdown from William Stewart.

The Tornadoes will play Marion County in the state semifinals next week.