CORDOVA -- Head coach Blake Raley knew the biggest concern facing his Ridgeland-Hardeeville football team Friday night at Edisto High School in the Class 2-A Division I playoffs.
"Quarterback," he said. "The quarterback, and we hadn't had the strongest defensive back play all year. We knew that was going to be a problem."
It did not take long for the quarterback in question, Tyrell Maxwell, to justify Raley's worst fears. The junior threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first quarter and finished with 305 total yards as the Cougars rolled to a 45-12 victory.
The playoff win was the first for Edisto (5-6) since 2007 and sets up a second-round matchup against Lake City.
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Edisto seized the momentum right from the outset. From the Cougars' own 30, Maxwell floated a pass to a streaking Jabari Ryant down the sidelines for a 53-yard gain.
Two plays later, Maxwell completed the first of three touchdowns to Quadrey Simmons for a 10-yard score. The 2-point conversion run by Michael Buck put Edisto up 8-0 exactly one minute into the game.
The Cougars took over on their next possession at the Ridgeland-Hardeeville 35 after tackling the punter. Maxwell then found Devin Fogle for a 29-yard touchdown reception and D.J. Sutcliff added the 2-point conversion to extend the lead to 16-0.
"I think getting out to a jump like that here in the first round of the playoffs gives you some momentum into the game," Edisto head coach Andy Palmer said. "I like where we were. So that was a big key for us getting a couple of scores early and being able to go from there."
Ridgeland-Hardeeville put together an eight-play, 77-yard scoring drive using strictly inside trap runs and sweeps by its running backs. After converting a fourth down, Marquis Griffin put the Jaguars on the board with a 17-yard scoring run.
It was one of the few offensive highlights for the Jaguars, who managed just 3 yards the rest of the first half. The 2-point conversion failed and an onside kick attempt was recovered by the Cougars at their own 47.
Edisto capitalized as Maxwell tossed his third touchdown of the first quarter, and second to Simmons, from 19 yards to make it 24-0 after the 2-point conversion.
Maxwell finished 10 of 15 passing for 240 yards, and he rushed eight times for 65 yards.
"We've got a good quarterback, some pretty decent receivers and our offensive line blocked well upfront, so we were able to hit some balls down the field," Palmer said. "That's kind of what we do."
Ricky Jackson led the Cougars with three sacks to go with a team-high nine tackles.
The second half started with Ridgeland-Hardeeville's frustrations creating another scoring opportunity for the Cougars. The Jaguars were whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct which resulted in a 3rd and 19 at their own 40 and, following a blocked punt, they received a personal foul penalty which gave Edisto the football at the 30-yard line.
It only took two plays before Maxwell and Simmons connected again on a 20-yard touchdown pass play. Simmons finished with six catches for 107 yards.
Cylik Morrison Ford had an interception in the third quarter to set up Ridgeland-Hardeeville's final score of the night. The Jaguars' Gavin Bush took a handoff and fired a pass to a wide-open Kevon Williams in the end zone for a 32-yard score.
"This is a good football team," Raley said about Edisto. "We knew not to be deceived by us and them having the same record. Playing the Allendales, the Willistons, the Hanahans, that's three region champions that they played. They went 3 1/2 quarters with Silver Bluff and took it to Bamberg right to the end. So those kids can play."
Edisto 45, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 12
E - Simmons 10 pass from Maxwell (run good) 11:00
E - Fogle 29 pass from Maxwell (run good) 7:20
R-H - Griffin 17 run (run failed) 3:18
E - Simmons 19 pass from Maxwell (pass good) 1:33
E - Furtick 5 run (kick failed) 9:30
E - Buck fumble recovery (run good) 3:02
E - Simmons 20 pass from Maxwell (kick good) 8:35
R-H - Williams 32 pass from Bush (run failed) 3:08