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Gld Hurricanes Sports

Wren gets revenge with rout over Palmetto

Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011 by Sidney McClain

—Wren had been waiting a year for this.

Twelve months ago, without their star quarterback, the Class AAAA Golden Hurricane was stunned by its smaller Anderson County District 1 rival, falling 35-20 to Class AA Palmetto.

On their home field Friday night, the Hurricane returned the favor with flair. Wren used a balanced offense and capitalized on five Palmetto turnovers to stomp the Mustangs, 42-0.

Wren improved to 1-0; Palmetto fell to 1-1.

“It was a big victory for my team,” said Wren tailback Levi Bufford, who scored three times, once on the ground and twice through the air. “I’m just glad we beat them. We’ve been practicing all week, all summer long, and we finally beat them.”

It was also sweet redemption for quarterback Caleb McClain. Playing in place of suspended starter Austin McCaskill last year, he completed eight of 17 passes for 125 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Friday, he was much improved in his first game as Wren’s full-time starter.

When he took a seat midway through the third quarter, Wren led 35-0, and McClain had completed 13 of 19 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns against one interception. He led a balanced offense; Wren had 261 rushing yards and 230 passing.

“I thought he did exceptionally well,” Wren coach Jeff Tate said. “I was real pleased with him. I know he was wanting to do well, I know he wants to be the leader of our football team. He’s a tough kid, very reliable, I thought he made some good reads in the run game, and gave us a chance to make big plays in the passing game.”

The Hurricane took control quickly. Midway through the first quarter, Ty Jefferson broke a 74-yard touchdown run, giving Wren a 7-0 lead it’d never give back. McClain’s precision passing led a seven-play, 71-yard drive, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown toss to Bufford. That gave Wren a 14-0 lead with 1:56 left in the first quarter.

Bufford’s 72-yard dash gave the Hurricane a 20-0 halftime lead, and Wren sealed Palmetto’s fate on the second half’s first two drives.

The Mustangs fumbled both possessions away — both recovered by defensive back Anthony Berendsen, who later added a 46-yard interception return for good measure.

Wren cashed both turnovers in for scores — a 21-yard Bufford shovel pass and a seven-yard McClain connection with Derek Bayne — for a 35-0 lead with 8:08 left in the third quarter.

Tate said his team’s numbers and turnovers overwhelmed the Mustangs.

“You take control of the game, and it gives you more confidence,” he said. “As a high school kid, if your team’s behind by 35 or 42, and the amount of time that’s on the clock, you’ll feel like there’s no hope.

“A lot of time the kids will back off, not saying they give up, but back off, and don’t play quite as hard, don’t hit you quite as hard, don’t run quite as hard. I think our numbers, they had a lot of kids had to go both ways.. and that played into our hands.”

Wren never let Palmetto’s run game get going, and Tate credited his team’s strong front seven, calling their defensive effort “very satisfying.”

So was getting District 1 bragging rights back for another year.

“Any time you can beat what you call your rival, it makes you good and proud,” he said. “The biggest thing is I’m proud of our kids, knowing what happened last year. Our guys respect Palmetto. They know they’re a tough football team, they’re well-coached. You know you’re going to get their best every time you play them and I’m glad our guys were able to answer that.”

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