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Upon reviewing film from its 21-14 victory over Porter-Gaud earlier this season, the Laurence Manning Academy football coaching staff thought it found a few ways it could utilize Wyatt Rowland to exploit the Cyclone defense in their SCISA 3A state playoffs quarterfinal game last Friday.
Boy, did they ever.
Rowland ran the ball 11 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 187 yards and two more scores in helping the Swampcats to a 40-14 victory.
"We knew from the last time we played them we stumbled on a couple of things that we thought we could take advantage of," Rowland said. "We thought we could make something happen with that and with the blocking of our offensive line."
Because of his performance, Rowland has been selected as The Sumter Item Offensive Player of the Week. His teammate, strong safety Gabe Harris is the Defensive Player, while Sumter High School H-back/tight end Jordan McGee is the Offensive Lineman and Gamecock kicker Dyson Roberts is the Special Teams Player.
Players are selected based on nominations from local high school coaches. Selections are made by The Sumter Item sports staff
The quartet will be honored at the weekly breakfast meeting of the Sumter Touchdown Club presented by FTC on Friday beginning at 7:15 a.m. The meeting takes place at the University of South Carolina Sumter's Arts & Letters Building.
Radio sports talk host and recruiting guru Phil Kornblut will be the guest speaker.
OFFENSE - WYATT ROWLAND LAURENCE MANNING
The Swampcats were tied with Porter-Gaud 7-7 at halftime but broke things open early in the second half.
"We came out in the second half ready to play," Rowland said. "We found a couple of things we were able to do."
LMA was able to take advantage of the Porter-Gaud safety creeping up close to the box, leaving the middle of the field exposed.
"Wyatt just did a great job," said Laurence Manning head coach Austin Floyd, whose team is 10-1. "We also noticed some things in our blocking schemes, and if he only has one player he has to make miss he can make all kinds of things happen."
Defensively, Rowland had an interception and broke up two passes.
DEFENSE - GABE HARRIS LAURENCE MANNING
Harris had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown to seal LMA's spot in the semifinals against Ben Lippen on Friday. However, Floyd was more impressed with the first one.
"That interception was a lot more important than the Pick-6," Floyd said of Harris' first interception on the last play of the first half. "It was right before the half; it kept them from scoring and it gave us momentum in the second half. We went into halftime excited and made adjustments."
Harris was unable to take the first one back for a touchdown though, getting caught just past midfield. The second one though was a different matter.
"On the second one, I jumped the route and I was able to make a 1-handed catch with my left hand," said Harris, who also had five tackles and broke up two passes. "I brought it in, and I was able to outrun the quarterback (who had tackled him on the first interception)."
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN - JORDAN MCGEE SUMTER
McGee splits his time between H-back and tight end and he had a big game in the Gamecocks' 45-7 victory over Woodmont in the first round of the 5A state playoffs. He graded out at 81 percent and had two knockdown blocks.
McGee has to approach blocking differently depending on the position he is playing.
"At tight end, I'm really having to focus because I'm blocking linemen that are bigger than me," he said. "At H-back, I'm usually blocking players who are my size or smaller."
McGee is more than a blocker though. He caught a 56-yard touchdown pass for Sumter's first score against Woodmont.
He's done a great job all year long catching the ball," said Sumter head coach Mark Barnes. "When he catches it, he is usually in a good position to score. He had four catches and four touchdowns earlier this year. He's faster than people think he is."
SPECIAL TEAMS - DYSON ROBERTS SUMTER
Roberts handles all of Sumter's kicking duties, and he went 6-for-6 on extra points, booted a 23-yard field goal and averaged 51 yards a kick on eight kickoffs against Woodmont.
"He's been a weapon for us all year," Barnes said. "He's done a great job punting, on field goals and extra points. He's really improved in kickoffs, kicking it to a certain area inside the hashmark where we only have to cover three-quarters of the field instead of the entire field."
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