RIDGELAND -- Thomas Heyward Academy head football coach Nic Shuford had to be wondering if Friday night's game was cursed.
Less than two minutes into the game, the lights at Thomas Heyward went dark, stopping play. And they stayed that way for about 20 minutes.
"I was starting to wonder, the rain first, then the lights go out, then we have to stop for the hole," Shuford said. "Maybe we're not going to get this one in."
The hole? It opened up in the second quarter around the 20-yard line at one end of the field and nearly swallowed a ball carrier. One official could put his entire forearm in it, all the way up to the elbow.
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"I have no idea where that hole came from," he said. "It wasn't there yesterday."
But if there was a curse, in the end it didn't affect the home team.
The Rebels overcame a rough start on defense and got an explosively efficient night out of senior quarterback JD Tuten to rout Colleton Prep, 49-14.
Tuten carried the ball just seven times for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while completing five of nine passes for 96 yards and two more touchdowns.
"He's a gamer. I think he likes the spotlight. When the lights go on, he shines," Shuford said of Tuten. "You just kinda watch him. I don't know how to describe him. He's just a player."
Though Thomas Heyward scored first, they were having trouble early stopping Colleton Prep's smashmouth running game led by huge fulllback Heath Fisk and tailback Joseph Padgett.
After the War Hawks drove right down the field to tie the game at 7, it appeared the Rebels' ensuing drive would stall.
But on third-and-20, Tuten lined up at halfback, took the pitch from Davis Owens and threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Lee Wade for a 14-7 lead.
On the first play of the next drive, it appeared Colleton Prep would pick up where it left off as Will Carter rumbled 18 yards on first down. But the ball was stripped away at the end of the play, and seven plays later, Ryan Day scored from 12 yards out and Thomas Heyward didn't look back.
The War Hawks answered with a long drive for a score to cut the lead to a touchdown again.
Then, Tuten went to work.
On the first play of the Rebels' next drive, Tuten escaped from traffic and rambled 65 yards for a touchdown.
"I don't really know how I do it," Tuten said." I just run."
When Colleton Prep tried to answer, the Rebels defense clamped down. With the War Hawks in Rebels territory, Forrest Richardson picked off a Tanner Crosby pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.
Tuten added a 44-yard touchdown run and another scoring pass to Wade, this one 11 yards, in the second half.
After the first quarter the Rebels slowed the War Hawks' strong running game that had given them fits early.
"They definitely gave us some problems in the first half," Shuford said. "I think we just got more aggressive. Our technique got better.
"In the first half, I know we were up all over the guy's shoulder pads trying to bring him down, that big fullback. In the second half, we did a much better job getting him around the knees."
Tuten said the Rebels made an adjustment, putting their deep safety in the box and daring Colleton Prep to throw long.
"We took that one man over the top and stuffed him in the box and we went to a goal-line defense and just trusted our DBs," Tuten said. "On film, (their pass plays) were all short routes."
Despite the big score, Thomas Heyward ran just 30 offensive plays, 19 fewer than Colleton Prep.
"We were clicking pretty well, we didn't really need to put too many long drives together and we were able to score off some big ones," Shuford said. "That's kind of a good thing and a bad thing. That's putting their offense back on the field to wear us down a little bit. But we'll take the points."
Thomas Heyward 49, Colleton Prep 14
Colleton Prep 7 7 0 0 -- 14
THA 14 21 14 0 -- 49
THA--Ryan Day 13 run (JD Tuten kick), 8:54
CP--Joseph Padgett 31 run (Will Reeves kick), 5:40
THA--Bryan Lee Wade 40 pass from Tuten (Tuten kick), 0:55.6
THA--Day 12 run (Tuten kick), 10:06
CP--Heath Fisk 2 run (Reeves kick), 2:25
THA--Tuten 65 run (Anthony Sanders kick), 2:05
THA--Forrest Richardson 75 interception return (Sanders kick), 0:26
THA--Tuten 44 run (Sanders kick), 7:58
THA--Wade 11 pass from Tuten (Sanders kick), 4:00
First Downs 12 7
Rushes-Yards 40-200 21-275
Comp-Att-Int 3-6-1 5-9-0
Passing Yards 27 96
Punts-Avg 2-24.5 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 0-0 5-22
Third-Down Conv 3-8 3-5
Fourth-Down Conv 4-4 1-1
CP -- Heath Fisk 13-52, Joseph Padgett 15-59, Will Carter 7-76, Tanner Crosby 4-2, Kyle Davis 1-11; THA -- Ryan Day 9-103, JD Tuten 7-152, Hayden Daley 1-0, Zack Newton 2-16, Jared Rountree 1-2, Davis Owens 1-2.
CP -- Crosby 3-4-0-27, Carter 0-2-1-0; THA-- Tuten 5-9-0-96..
CP -- Fisk 2-22, Davis 1-5; THA -- Forrest Richardson 2-33, Bryan Lee Wade 2-51, Seth Jones 1-12.