GREENWOOD – Despite throwing three interceptions in the first half, one returned 65 yards for a touchdown by K.J. Chamberlain, Greer High quarterback Mario Cusano gained 250 total yards and had a hand in three touchdowns to lift the Yellow Jackets to a 28-13 win at Emerald’s Frank Hill Stadium Friday night in the teams’ Peach Blossom AAA Region opener.
Led by Cole Henderson, Tyreek Donaldson, Bobby Farrington and others, Greer’s defense held Emerald to 16 net yards on 29 plays for the night.
Adrian McGee rushed 20 times for 67 yards at running back, and on defense at the spur position, he scooped up a bouncing snap that sailed over the head of Emerald quarterback Isaiah Brown and returned it 15 yards for the final score in Greer’s rally from a 13-0 deficit.
“I was going in on a blitz and saw the QB mess up. I just ran in there and got the ball,” McGee said of his first defensive touchdown. “It was really important to get this win. I don’t think there’s any other team that can beat us in the region, so this was pretty much the region championship today.”
Dorian Lindsey caught seven passes for 145 yards for the Yellow Jackets as Greer improved to 4-0 on the season and Emerald fell to 2-2.
“I thought our defense played outstanding,” said Greer coach Will Young. “They’ve been playing really well the last month. We don’t win this game without our defense tonight. They played real aggressive football and really got after them.”
From the beginning Cusano was off with some of his throws. After just missing an interception on Cusano’s first pass, David Johnson grabbed one three plays later to set up Emerald quarterback Isaiah Brown for a 27-yard scoring run on Emerald’s first offensive play.
A couple of big catches in traffic by Lindsey then led Greer on a 16-play drive that reached Emerald’s 6-yard-line, but a 36-yard field goal attempt by Nick Roberson eventually fell wide left.
The Yellow Jackets then forced Emerald three-and-out, but the first of Chamberlain’s two interceptions stretched the Vikings’ lead to 13-0, after a 2-point conversion try on a fake point-after kick was stopped short.
Greer scored the first of its 28 unanswered points on its next drive when Cusano took to the ground, carrying six times in an eight-play drive that ended with his 12-yard keeper for a touchdown. He rushed for 49 yards in the game.
He found Xavier Wright for a touchdown pass in the third quarter to cap an 80-yard drive on Greer’s next possession, and though the point-after kick sailed wide right following a flag for illegal procedure, Greer scored again on the next play from scrimmage when holding was called on Emerald in the Vikings’ own end zone for a safety.
On third-and-goal from the 4-yard-line in the fourth period, Wright got open in the end zone again for another scoring reception from Cusano.
McGee’s scoop-and-score on Emerald’s next drive put the exclamation point on the Greer defense’s effort.
“Adrian is a heck of a ballplayer,” said Young. “He’s done a lot for us. He’s one of those kids that plays both ways. We don’t have many, got a couple. We couldn’t get him quite open enough running the ball tonight like we would like to. We’ll have to go back and look at that a little bit, see where the kinks are.”
Greer returns home to play Travelers Rest (0-4, 0-1), a 42-7 loser to Chapman Friday, in region play next week.
Follow Michael Burns on Twitter @MikeNearGreer