Darrien Rencher may have been better Friday than he was Thursday.
The T.L. Hanna freshman, not expected to see much playing time, sparked a second-half comeback as the Yellow Jackets earned a 35-28 victory at Mauldin.
Rencher raced 41 and 26 carries in his first two carries to lead the charge from a 20-7 deficit. Rencher, who starred in a C-team game Thursday, entered Friday’s game at tailback after an injury to starter Deon Williams.
“It was thrilling,” said the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Rencher, who finished with 158 yards on 14 carries. “My heart was racing.”
Hanna improved to 2-2. Mauldin fell to 1-2.
Hanna coach Kenya Fouch said he knew Rencher had the skills to play at the varsity level. Still, he played only due to injuries to the Jackets’ Nos. 1 and 2 tailbacks.
“We brought a couple people up just for depth,” Fouch said. “We knew the potential was there for Darrien, but you never know if a 14-year-old is ready for Friday night.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
Rencher’s first carry and Jon-Michael Kubu’s kick cut the Mauldin lead to 20-14.
With Rencher leading the attack, quarterback Dom Catalfamo tacked on short touchdown runs to give the Jackets the lead.
Then a Mauldin mistake led to a back-breaker, an 84-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Alexander Poore that put the Jackets ahead 35-20 with 8:28 to play. Poore one-hopped a botched shotgun snap that glanced off a receiver in motion and outran Mauldin quarterback Dre Massey to the end zone.
The Mavs (1-2) pulled to 35-28 on Taz Richardson’s second touchdown catch from Massey and Massey’s two-point run.
But Hanna, behind the running of Rencher and fullback Ben Boulware, ran out the clock.
Massey ran 18 times for 137 yards.
“We put ourselves in some binds,” said Mauldin coach Doug Shaw. “I think it was a great game.”
The Mavs led 14-7 at halftime, holding the Jackets to 11 yards rushing on nine carries.
Mauldin took advantage of a running-into-the-kicker penalty to sustain a 14-play, 68-yard drive on its opening drive, taking a 7-0 lead on Roy Nash’s 1-yard run and Chris Weekes’ kick.
Hanna tied the score midway through the second quarter on Ishmell Williams’ 28-yard catch and run of a Catalfomo pass and Kubu’s kick.
But the Mavs took the lead at halftime on Richardson’s 15-yard run on a reverse to the right corner of the end zone.
Mauldin led despite 74 yards in penalties in the first half. though Hanna a touchdown called back by a penalty.