Dutch Fork defeats Gaffney, advances to Upper State final

Posted 11/18/23

The Dutch Fork Silver Foxes advanced to the upper state final Friday night after a commanding 35-10 win over Gaffney, keeping the team’s hopes of defending its 2022 title alive. 

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Dutch Fork defeats Gaffney, advances to Upper State final


The Dutch Fork Silver Foxes advanced to the upper state final Friday night after a commanding 35-10 win over Gaffney, keeping the team’s hopes of defending its 2022 title alive. 

The Silver Foxes’ defense dominated the Indians, forcing them off the field and holding them to three for 12 on third downs. Gaffney’s offense made it to the red zone twice but walked away scoreless once and never made it into the endzone.

“Defense won the game. Lights out, got down here and held them to field goals and they missed one,” Head coach Tom Knotts said. “That's a good quarterback. That's as good of an overall wide receiver group as there is in the state, and we just shut them down.”

Friday was the third time in three years these two teams have faced off in the playoffs.

Last season, Dutch Fork beat Gaffney en route to its sixth championship under Knotts, and the year before that, Gaffney put an end to Dutch Forks’ five-year reign by beating the Silver Foxes in the championship game.

Things got chippy before the game kicked off after the two teams met on the field and got involved in a minor scrum. Throughout the game, the teams hit hard and celebrated it. 

“It's definitely a rivalry between us two,” receiver Jacob Hamilton said. “Going back to state two years ago and then last year in the playoffs, definitely plays a factor. But we battle on every play of the game.”

Backup quarterback Ethan Offing started his second consecutive game, replacing the injured Jon Hunt.

Offing went 17-28 passing for 188 yards and a touchdown. He also affected the game with his legs, running for 51 yards and two touchdowns.

“Ethan was a little bit inconsistent, but as a sophomore quarterback, I'm very pleased with him,” Knotts said. “He's only continued to get better.”

Running backs Maurice Anderson and Trent Lodge combined for over 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Lodge added three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Anderson exited the game early after going down with an ankle injury. However, both Anderson and Knotts said he sat out of precaution and will be back on the field next week.

Dutch Fork started with the ball but failed to put a drive together and went three and out. However, the offense barely made it to the sideline before having to retake the field after Gaffney blocked the punt and ran in a scoop-and-score.

The next drive went much better for the Silver Foxes. The team drove down the field, and Offing put the team’s first points on the board after a 17-yard quarterback keeper for the touchdown. 

It appeared Gaffney was about to respond and retake the lead after a runner broke free for 75-plus yards. But the Indians failed to capitalize on their big play and missed a short field goal to give the ball back to Dutch Fork. 

Gaffaney got a kick at redemption after Dutch Fork punted. This time the kicker made it through the uprights to retake the lead. But that lead did not last long. 

Dutch Fork had the ball 10 yards from the endzone on the next drive and decided to keep the offense out on a fourth and one.

The gamble paid off as Offing ran in his second touchdown of the game to put Dutch Fork up 14-10 with just over six minutes until halftime. 

Dutch Fork was set up nicely for one final score in the half after a short punt on the next Gaffney drive followed by a personnel foul on the fair catch gave the Silver Foxes the ball right outside the red zone. 

This drive looked disastrous for Dutch Fork though as the team moved backwards on the first three downs. Eager to capitalize off the opportunity set up by the punt, Knotts, with some encouragement from the team, made the call to go for it on a fourth and 15.

“I was just going to get the points, and everyone screamed at me,” Knotts said. “So I said ‘We’ll go for it, but we better freaking get it though.’”

Offing connected with Hamilton on a 16-yard pass to barely keep the drive alive. A few hard runs later, Dutch Fork was on the one-yard line where Anderson punched it in for his touchdown. 

The Dutch Fork defense stepped its game up even more in the second half, holding Gaffney to no points and just 37 total yards.

Lodge scored both of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter to end Gaffney’s hopes of a comeback. 

His first came from an 11-yard reception from Offing four minutes into the final quarter. After this touchdown, the Gaffney supporters started clearing the stands.

Lodge’s second score was the game's last and came off a two-yard rush with just over two minutes left in the contest.

Dutch Fork has gotten hot at the right time, having picked up its sixth win in a row. The team’s last loss came against region foe White Knoll on Oct. 6.

The Timberwolves are still alive in the 5A tournament but would not meet the Silver Foxes until the championship game.

Standing in Dutch Fork’s way of a trip back to the championship game is JL Mann. Knotts said this will be an unfamiliar foe because these two teams have not played during his time at Dutch Fork.

“Don't even know where they are or who they are,” Knotts said. “Congratulations to them if they won, but we'll go to work on whoever we play. It doesn't matter, and hopefully, we'll do what we've been doing and continue our good play.”

Dutch Fork and JL Mann will play in the upper state championship on Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the 5A state title game at South Carolina State University.

Other scores from around Lexington County

White Knoll 35, Sumter 7

Irmo 34, James Island 7

Brookland-Cayce 53, Crestwood 27

Camden 35, Gilbert 28

Gray Collegiate 35, Strom Thurmond 28

Fourth round matchups

JL Mann at Dutch Fork

Summerville at White Knoll

Irmo at South Florence 

Camden at Brookland-Cayce

Abbeville at Gray Collegiate

Dutch Fork football, Gaffney football, SCHSL playoffs, sc high school playoffs, lexington county athletics, Tom Knotts, Ethan Offing


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