Nic Shuford couldn't pinpoint one singular thing that led to the undoing of his Thomas Heyward Academy offense Friday night against Orangeburg Prep.
Miscommunication. Wrong routes. Missed assignments. You name it, the Rebels struggled with it.
"It was a combination of all of the above," Shuford said. "We just didn't come out ready to play, we didn't execute, and I've got to take responsibility for that. I don't think I did a good enough job preparing them for this game."
The Rebels were held to just 6 yards of offense and one first down through the first half and trudged their way to a 35-7 loss in the season-opener. A 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Zach Belger in the first quarter saved Thomas Heyward from its first shutout loss since a 42-0 setback to Northwood Academy in 2009.
"I feel there was a lot of miscommunication up front," said new quarterback Davis Owens, who finished just 4 of 16 for 73 yards. "We just got frustrated after that. We just didn't execute our blocking assignments, running backs didn't read their holes, I didn't keep my eyes downfield.
"It was a group effort. It wasn't one man's job, we just all didn't play well."
The Rebels (0-1) could only watch from afar as Orangeburg Prep sliced its way through their secondary, which features four sophomores and a freshman rotating in and out.
Derek Andrews did much of the damage, as the wide receiver hauled in six catches for 109 yards -- all of which came in the first half -- and two touchdowns. Quarterback Marion McCurry found him over the middle for a 17-yard scoring strike to open the evening before the senior took a curl route on the far sideline and turned it into a 44-yard touchdown.
That was enough for the Indians' defense, which held the Rebels rushing attack to less than a yard per carry.
"I just got some good throws and things happened," Andrews said. "We tried to go at a couple corners that we thought we had good matchups on."
He added to the lead early in the third quarter after taking a Thomas Heyward punt back 76 yards for a touchdown to put the finishing touches on the 28-point victory. It helped the Indians (1-0) avenge a 14-6 loss to Thomas Heyward in last year's season opener.
"He's a heck of a ball player, man," Shuford said of Andrews. "He can really play. We saw that on the film. We knew he was going to be hard to cover."
Shuford can only hope the Rebels can soon find a similar breakout player, as their offense looked like a shell of the one that took the field last year en route to the SCISAA Class 2-A championship game. The Rebels lost a pair of fumbles deep in their own territory Friday night and finished 0 for 4 on fourth down.
"We didn't execute for a reason," he said. "I don't think I demanded enough out of them."
Owens -- who started his first game in place of the departed J.D. Tuten -- tried to turn Friday's loss into a positive, hoping it pushes Thomas Heyward to pick things up before region play begins.
He and his teammates will get their first shot at redemption next Friday against Bible Baptist.
"It's a wakeup call," Owens said. "We'll have to work even harder to get where we want to be by region play."
Orangeburg Prep 35, Thomas Heyward 7
Orangeburg Prep 14 14 7 0 -- 35
Thomas Heyward 7 0 0 0 -- 7
OP--Derek Andrews 17 catch from Marion McCurry (Hunter Pickens kick), 4:50.
THA--Zach Belger 92 return (Anthony Sanders kick), 4:31.
OP--Andrews 44 catch from McCurry (Pickens kick), 0:01.
OP--Michael Pascoe 5 rush (Pickens kick), 4:19.
OP--Calder West 25 catch from McCurry (Pickens kick), 2:09.
OP--Derek Andrews 76 punt return (Pickens kick), 10:02.
First Downs 10 6
Rushes-Yards 24-33 33-41
Comp-Att-Int 14-22-1 4-17-0
Passing Yards 202 73
Punts-Avg 5-30 6-34
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-2
Penalties-Yards 6-50 2-25
Third-Down Conv 4-10 4-14
Fourth-Down Conv 0-0 0-4
PASSING: OP -- Marion McCurry 14-22-1-202, 2 TD; THA -- Davis Owens 4-16-0-73, Collin Roach 0-1-0-0
RUSHING: OP -- Trung Ngo 8-25, Michael Pascoe 13-21, Marion McCurry 3-(-13); THA -- Jared Roundtree 12-23, Collin Roach 3-9, Davis Owens 5-5, Seth Jones 8-3, Zach Belger 5-1
RECEIVING: OP -- Derek Andrews 6-109, Calder West 3-35, Timmy Schriver 1-18, Michael Pascoe 1-16, Chris Johnson 2-13, Jackson Miller 1-12, J.J. Union 1-(-1); THA -- Anthony Sanders 2-52, Seth Jones 2-21