Iron Horses can’t hold onto halftime lead, drop gridiron matchup to Georgetown

Philip Simmons High School football coach Eric Bendig spent Labor Day “battening down the hatches” at his school’s football stadium in preparation for a possible – and ominous – visit by Hurricane Dorian.

It wasn’t the way he had planned to spend the day. He hoped his team could get in an early morning practice in preparation for this week’s scheduled game against Charleston Math & Science. But when he heard about the mandatory evacuation and lane reversal of Interstate 26, he knew it wasn’t worth the risk of having his players -- or their parents -- driving to campus.

The Iron Horses still have areas to work on following Friday’s 27-14 loss to Georgetown High that dropped their record to 0-2. The offense struggled at times, running 48 plays for 216 yards, while the defense couldn’t hold on at the end. Bendig is a stickler for conditioning, but he admitted his team showed some wear and tear in the fourth quarter from the heat and humidity against the Bulldogs, who won their season-opener.

The Iron Horses led 7-0 at halftime on a run from Javier Collins-Smith, the first of two touchdowns by the talented running back. Georgetown scored two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion to take a 15-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Collins-Smith added his second TD to make it a 15-14 lead, but it was all Bulldogs in the final 12 minutes as they pushed the ball across the goal-line two times.

The Iron Horses played without starting quarterback Tripp Williams, who suffered a severe ankle injury late in the Week 1 loss to St. John’s. He could be sidelined for another three or four weeks.

Peyton Woolridge filled in for Williams and completed 3 of 11 passes for 19 yards. The rest of the offensive production came on an impressive running attack. Solly Bess carried 18 times for 139 yards, for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. Collins-Smith toted the football 10 times for 52 yards.

Williams’ injury marked the second straight season the Iron Horses lost their starting QB in the opening game because of an injury.

“You love having Williams on the team because he’s talented and he’s a leader,” Bendig said. “But it seems we’re snake-bitten. Peyton played wide receiver and defensive back and he came in and did an admirable job.”

Tyler Harper had a yeoman’s effort on defense, recording 31 tackles, including 13 solo stops. He recovered two fumbles. Will Ramey tallied 16 tackles and notched a tackle for a loss and fumble recovery.

Bendig said his Iron Horses hoped to avenge last year’s season-opening losses to St. John’s and Georgetown, but it wasn’t in the cards. Last year, the Iron Horses were outscored 85-13 against the same two foes. This year, the Iron Horses were outscored 41-27.

But a loss is a loss, and Bendig was looking forward to this week’s practice to prepare for the Riptides. But the schedule is up in the air, and the Iron Horses could play Charleston Math & Science on Saturday, Monday or a later date. The Iron Horses are scheduled to play Bishop England on Sept. 13.

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