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Byrnes-St. Thomas Aquinas

I was at times distracted, and watching online, but had a chance to see most of the game.  None of these stats are official.  They are based on personal recollection. They are almost assuredly inexact, though rather close.

Marcus Lattimore looked good running behind an overmatched line.  He had around 175 to 200 all purpose yards with around 125 to 150 running, and 50 receiving.  He also looked extremely comfortable split out and catching the ball.

However, he coughed it up three times.  One was on a poor toss from the QB, and another came when a defender hit the ball on a tackle from behind, though probably not hard enough that he should have lost it.

The fumbles were all extremely costly, with the first returned 40+ for a score, the second returned 30 or 40 to set up an extremely short field score (25 yard drive), and the final occurring at the STA 5.  Lattimore exhibits all the positive emotion you would want from a player.  It appeared he even shed some tears on the sideline, which is understandable for a high school player in a de facto national championship game.

Nick Jones was thrown out on the final play of the first half.  A Florida kid started some shoving, and the officials decided Jones threw a punch in reply.  I wouldn't have called it one, but that's an automatic ejection, along with offsetting penalties that didn't really offset.

Jazz King was the most dangerous Byrnes WR on the night.  He finished with two touchdowns and numerous big catches.  He also ran hard after the catch.  On the seven yard WR screen that led to his first score, he broke a tackle and made a couple more defenders miss on his way to the end zone.  It has been speculated that a Carolina offer to King could wrap up the recruiting for King and his two higher profile teammates.  King looked like an SEC contributor against a secondary loaded with highly touted prospects, and he may have given the Gamecock coaching staff something to think about.

One other Byrnes player stood out.  Recent Tennessee commitment Corey Miller seemingly set up shop in the STA backfield.  The DE made numerous plays, including a forced fumble.  It looks like Lane Kiffin has locked up another one the next Tennessee coach will be happy to inherit.

The Florida team had better players (their backup RB has ACC/Big East offers), but they did not look like the better team.  Byrnes gave up five 3rd downs of 8 or more in the first half, a 93 yard KO return, and the three Marcus fumbles.  The Rebels outgained STA substantially (I'd guess 150-200 yards), and held the home team to 35 second half yards until the final possession.  STA also committed numerous personal foul penalties, including one after a 3rd down stop midway through the 4th quarter that inexplicably did not give Byrnes an automatics first down.

All in all, Byrnes represented South Carolina football quite well.  They also showed that a public school could go on the road and compete with the best recruited private school team in the nation.  The Rebels will understandably feel as it they let one slip away, but the players have nothing to be ashamed of, while the rest of South Carolina AAAA now has to worry about an angry Goliath refocused on another state title.