IDLSPTS-11-02-22 IL FOOTBALL

Indian Land High School's Jaden Peoples and Makhail Knight (6) go up to try and grab the ball during the Warriors' Oct. 28 game against Lancaster High School at Memorial Stadium.

Indian Land High School’s response was a statement win.

The Warriors, who finished the regular season at 6-4 and 2-3 in Region 3-4A, answered the challenge to extend their 2022 football season with a solid 35-14 region win over rival Lancaster High School at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Oct. 28.

The Warriors will advance in the Class 4A Upper State playoffs to face host Laurens High School on Friday, Nov. 4.

Indian Land is the 14th seed, with Laurens being the No. 3 seed.

The Indian Land vs. Laurens winner advances to face the Westside vs. Midland Valley victor.

“To finish the season the way we did is a real plus for us,” said Adam Hastings, third-year Warriors head coach. His team is in the playoffs for the second straight season.

Indian Land, bidding to snap a three-game region skid, did so in comeback mode after trailing 7-0 late in the first period with a 21-0 salvo for a 14-point halftime lead.

The key sequence came midway through the second quarter when the Warriors had rallied to take a 14-7 lead.

Scrappy Lancaster, also in the running for an at-large playoff bid with a victory, was on the move in hopes of knotting the game at 14-14.

Lancaster running back Mikel McCollum, on a snap from the Warriors’ 11, penetrated the line, but fumbled and alert Warriors’ defensive back Jaden Peoples picked up the ball and rambled 88 yards the other way for a momentum-swinging touchdown and a 21-7 lead.

“We didn’t flinch,” Hastings said, of his team’s resilient play in the face of adversity. “We did a good job coming up with takeaways. Lancaster is one of the most improved teams in this area. They’re explosive and play hard. We knew it wasn’t going to be a one punch and they’re out mentality. We knew we were going to have to bring it and we did a good job with that.”

The opportunistic Warriors forced five turnovers – two fumbles and three interceptions – to bolster their win and playoff hopes.

Indian Land, looking to boost their postseason chances, used Timir Hickman-Collins’ interception and 35-yard return to the Bruins' 45 to aid the Warriors’ fourth score.

The third-quarter touchdown came as Malachi Jefferson powered in from 2 yards out for a 28-7 lead after Jordan Blades’ fourth of five extra points.

The now-surging Warriors then took advantage of an onside kick recovery to take complete control with their final touchdown.

Jaden Singletary, who ran for 96 yards on 10 carries, capped the scoring march with a 33-yard scoring dash for a 35-7 Warriors’ lead.

“Turnovers and mental mistakes, which have plagued us this season, came back to get us again,” said Lancaster coach Marcus Surratt. “Indian Land, like us, knew what was on the line and they took advantage of our errors. We didn’t secure the ball and they took advantage.”

Early on, the Bruins were the aggressor, taking the opening kickoff in for six on a 79-yard, 15-snap time-consuming drive. Bruins quarterback JaRon Stevenson, who ran for 72 yards in 12 carries, powered in on a 7-yard run for a 7-0 lead after Daniel Vincent’s first of two extra points with 3:11 in the first period.

Indian Land, showing it came to play, answered with a 73-yard drive as Jefferson dashed 29 yards for the game-tying score on Blades’ kick at the 51.2-second mark.

That ignited the Warriors, who came back to take the lead for good with Singletary going 49 yards for a 14-7 Indian Land edge.

Lancaster came back and moved into the red zone of a possible game-tying score, but Peoples produced the game’s pivotal play, picking up the fumble and taking it 88 yards for a 14-point Warriors’ lead, 21-7.

“We knew we had to force turnovers,” Hastings said.

The Warriors, in the second half, added two more touchdowns for a 35-7 spread.

Lancaster, despite its mistakes, continued to fight and added a late score with Dakarai Vann going 9 yards with 6:55 left.

Vann ran for 102 yards on 21 carries for the Bruins, who finished the season 3-7 overall and 0-5 in the region.

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