River Bluff spoils White Knoll’s perfect start to season. RNE stuns Irmo

Dwayne McLemore/dmclemore@thestate.com

River Bluff used its strong running game and stout defense in the second half to win its region opener Thursday night.

Senior Cooper Johns rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns and the Gators defense pitched a shutout in the second half to defeat White Knoll 25-14 in the Region 4-5A opener for both teams.

“I’m just so proud of our guys how they finished and competed this week and learned from last week,” River Bluff coach Blair Hardin said.

The Gators were coming off their first loss of the season to Dorman and gave up 32 points in the second half of that game. River Bluff on Thursday held White Knoll to just 71 yards in the second half.

The Gators picked off two passes, including one by defensive end Kaleb Long to set up Gray Herring’s go-ahead touchdown to make it 19-14 with 9:51 left.

Johns, who had an 80-yard touchdown run on the Gators’ second possession, was big on the team’s game-clinching drive. Leading 19-14, River Bluff got the ball at its own 24-yard line with 7:30 left.

Johns carried it nine times on the final drive, picking up a crucial first down on fourth-and-1 and then capping it off with a 27-yard TD run with 2:10 left.

“We were trying to run the ball down, score and come out with a W,” Johns said of the last possession.

It was Johns’ second 200-yard game of the season, and he went over 1,000 yards for the season.

The loss was White Knoll’s first of the season in what was their best start in school history. The Timberwolves came into the game at 6-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class 5A under second-year coach Nick Pelham.

They led 14-7 in the second quarter after Landon Sharpe hit Austin Cunningham on a 22-yard TD pass on fourth-and-19.

Sharpe was 12-of-24 for 138 yards. Running back Jesse Ross rushed for 100 yards and Jaiden Kimble had a TD run.

Richland Northeast 20, Irmo 14

Quarterback Will Wilson scored on a 42-yard run with 2:04 left as the Cavs (2-4) knocked off the ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets in the region opener for both teams.

Wilson also had a TD pass in the first quarter. Irmo led 14-6 at halftime, but RNE tied it going into the fourth quarter.

Erick Tucker had two TD runs for Irmo.

Lexington 25, Chapin 7

Running back Jonah Norris rushed for three touchdowns and went over 1,000 yards on the season as the Wildcats (6-1) won their Region 4-5A opener.

Norris finished with 175 yards on 28 carries. He also caught three passes for 57 yards.

Lexington quarterback Taiden Mines was 12-of-19 passing for 148 yards and a TD to Tyler Derienzo.

AC Flora 49, Westwood 14

Aidan Moseley rushed for four touchdowns and senior Markel Townsend had three TDs as the Falcons (5-0) won their region opener.

AC Flora has scored 38 points or more in four of its five games this season.

Jayden Harrison had two touchdown runs for the Redhawks (1-5).

Ridge View 35, Lugoff-Elgin 6

Markus Kelly ran for three touchdowns as the Blazers (5-1) won their Region 4-4A opener and fourth-straight game overall.

Quarterback Donald Tomlin had a touchdown pass to Adonis McDaniel and Braylon Boyd also had a TD run.

Spring Valley 37, Rock Hill 22

Zion Fuller rushed for 287 yards and three touchdowns as the Spring Valley (3-3) won its Region 3-5A opener.

Evan Javis added 100 yards and two scores for the Vikings.

Blythewood 52, Fort Mill 0

Quarterback Harrison Collins threw two touchdown passes and ran for one as the Bengals (4-2) won their Region 3-5A opener.

The Bengals’ 52 points were the most scored in a game since a 56-21 win over Beaufort in 2019.

Collins was 8-of-12 for 155 yards.

Backup quarterback David Herden added two touchdown runs and passed for 90 yards. Deandre Williams and Desmond Macklin also had TD runs for Blythewood.

Gilbert 48, Lower Richland 23

Alias Graham-Woodberry had three touchdowns in the second half as the Indians (4-2) won their Region 5-3A opener.

Gray Collegiate 70, Columbia 0

Quarterback Riley Staton threw for four touchdowns and the War Eagles (4-3) held the Capitals to 50 yards of offense.

Devin Johnson caught two touchdown passes and Zai Offord returned an interception for a touchdown.

Dreher 33, Swansea 20

David Eppes ran for two touchdowns as the Blue Devils (2-4) snapped a four-game losing streak and won their Region 5-3A opener.

Austin Jones returned an interception for a touchdown TD and the Blue Devils blocked a punt for a touchdown. Quarterback Colby Fuller also had a TD run for Dreher.

Ben Lippen 45, New Hope Leadership 6

Bo Morris and Ellis Jones had TD catches as the Falcons picked up the big victory.

Hammond 56, Augusta Christian 13

The Skyhawks scored all 56 points in the first half to win their fourth-straight game.

Saluda 42, Pelion 0

Quarterback Jonah McCary threw two touchdowns and ran for one in the Tigers’ region-opening victory.

McCary was 10-of-14 passing for 132 yards. Running back Brayden Williams carried it 11 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

Laurence Manning 22, Heathwood Hall 15

Dylan Lesane had a rushing TD and caught a touchdown from Patrick Belk in the loss for Heathwood (4-3).