As he was about to board a boisterous Scott's Branch bus for the ride back to Summerton, Leon Mathis hardly looked as if he had broken a sweat. And he sure wasn't short of breath.
"I could go another quarter," Mathis said.
He would've had a tough time getting Whale Branch High School to take him up on the offer.
Mathis gashed the Warriors for 320 rushing yards and six touchdowns, as No. 6 seed Scott's Branch rallied from a first-half deficit for its third consecutive win, spoiling the Warriors' first home playoff game with a 60-40 victory Friday night.
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Despite two first-half touchdowns from Mathis, the Warriors (7-4) took a 22-14 lead into halftime, taking the lead on Trey Nelson's 3-yard run with 1:36 left in the half after a draw play to Josh Fields converted a fourth-and-14.
But the Eagles' relentless ground game found room to run in the second half. Mathis did most of the work, carrying 46 times and adding three two-point conversion runs to go with his six touchdowns.
"They believe in what they do, and when it's clicking, they just pour it on harder and harder," Warriors coach Rob D'Amato said. "It's unorthodox, and it's hard to sell that kind of offense to kids these days, but Scott's Branch does it right, and they're a good football team."
For all that Mathis and the offense did to put the Eagles (4-7) over the top, it was a defensive play that turned the momentum. After Stedmon James hit Andre Watson for a 72-yard scoring strike to tie it at 28, the Warriors had the ball back with a chance to regain the lead.
But Robert Felder picked off a James pass at the Eagles' 45 and did a tightrope act along the sideline before breaking several tackles on his way the end zone, and giving Scott's Branch a 34-28 lead it didn't give up.
The Warriors fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Mathis broke a 24-yard touchdown run, then added a 53-yard scoring run on the next possession.
"Once we got down, we hung our heads and we stopped trusting what we were supposed to do out there," D'Amato said.