High School Football

Thomas Heyward ends title drought with last second-win over Pee Dee Academy

Watch: Thomas Heyward’s game-winning TD to win SCISA Class A championship

Jake Masters hits Bruzza Pusha on 3-yard pass with 5 seconds left to give Thomas Heyward 35-31 win in SCISA Class A championship.
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Jake Masters hits Bruzza Pusha on 3-yard pass with 5 seconds left to give Thomas Heyward 35-31 win in SCISA Class A championship.

Jake Masters won’t forget the final pass he threw in the state of South Carolina.

The Thomas Heyward senior quarterback hit a wide-open Bruzza Pusha in the right side of the end zone with five seconds left to give the Rebels a 35-31 win over Pee Dee Academy on Saturday in the SCISA Class A championship at Charlie Johnson Stadium.

It’s Thomas Heyward’s first title since 1981, the last of its five consecutive titles.

“We have been focused on this game for a while and we came through as brothers,” Masters said. “It showed tonight.”

With 10 seconds left, THA coach Nic Shuford debated on going for a tying field goal, but he had confidence that they could run two plays in that span. So Shuford called for “The Whip” route. Masters rolled to his right and hit Pusha, who was wide open after a Pee Dee defender fell down.

“We had 10 seconds so it was either going to be a touchdown or incomplete pass,” Masters said. “Bruzza ran a perfect route. You couldn’t run it better and I just lobbed it to him.”

Masters completed only two passes in the game, both on the final drive. THA (13-0) converted on a big fourth down on the drive when Pee Dee was called for pass interference on fourth down to extend the drive.

Four plays later, THA scored the game-winning TD.

“There was no quit in our guys,” Shuford said. “Pee Dee is a (heck) of a football team and they battled too. We were lucky to have the ball last. It was a great game back and forth all day.”

THA s is playing in a bowl game next month against a team from Alabama but it would be hard to match the drama of Saturday’s game. The teams combined for 45 points in the final two quarters.

The Rebels, who trailed 14-7 at halftime, scored three times in less than six minutes as Bobby Payne rumbled for three touchdowns. Payne had runs of 45, 80 and 24 yards to give THA a 28-14 lead with 3:41 left.

Payne, who battled cramps in the second half, finished with 221 yards on the ground. Trey Pusha had 97 yards rushing and River Pender added 84.

The Eagles cut it to 28-21 on Jake Lane’s 29-yard pass to Jason Norton with 1:58 left in the third. Pee Dee got within 28-23 when a bad snap on a punt rolled out of the end zone.

Pee Dee, which was looking for its first title since 1995, took a 31-28 lead when quarterback Jake Lane threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Justin Norton with 6:01 left.

Lane finished with 211 yards passing and three total TDs. Norton had 188 yards of offense.

Pee Dee jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half. Norton had a TD run in the first quarter, and quarterback Lane ran one in from seven yards out with 10:35 left in the second quarter.

The Eagles looked to be adding to the lead but the Rebels came up with a defensive stop inside the 20-yard line. Thomas Heyward marched down the field and Pender recovered his own fumble in the end zone to cut Pee Dee’s lead to 14-7 with less than two minutes left in second.

How They Scored

PDA 7 7 7 10 - 31

THA 0 7 21 7 - 35

First Quarter

PDA – Norton 10 run (Zeman kick), 3:36

Second Quarter

PDA – Lane 7 run (Zeman kick), 10:35

THA – Pender fumble recovery (Cleland kick), 1:17

Third Quarter

THA – Payne 45 run (Cleland kick), 9:33

THA – Payne 80 run (Cleland kick), 7:02

THA – Payne 24 run (Cleland kick), 3:41

PDA – Norton 29 pass from Lane (Zeman kick), 1:58

Fourth Quarter

PDA – Safety, 7:08

PDA – Norton 33 pass from Lane (Lane to Gasque), 6:01

THA – B. Pusha 3 pass from Masters (Cleland kick), 05

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