ROEBUCK, SC – In a huge crosstown rivalry game with playoff implications, Spartanburg outlasted Dorman 42-41 in an instant Big Friday classic in front of a raucous Cavalier Stadium.
The atmosphere in Roebuck was electric from start to finish as fans from both sides flooded and rode wildly swinging momentum shifts throughout the game. A first quarter scoring barrage by both teams only added to the prime time atmosphere.
Spartanburg received the ball first and went to work right away with a big opening kick return which gave the Vikings great field position. A Dorman offsides flag on 4th and 4 extended the opening drive, Raheim Jeter then kept it himself and scored his first touchdown of the game from 4 yards out, giving the Vikings an early 7-0 lead under 5 minutes into the first quarter.
The athletic DJ Porter took the first snaps at quarterback for Dorman and showed exactly why he should. A minute and 24 seconds after trailing, a 35-yard Porter run was quickly followed with a 34 yard touchdown pass to Emarea Fowler, The Cavaliers then converted a 2 point conversion to take a 8-7 lead while sending the Dorman student section into a frenzy.
The Dorman momentum then rolled into the next defensive drive. A Spartanburg fumble was scooped up and taken to the house by Dyquan Nesbitt, rocketing the Cavaliers into an 8-point lead with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Spartanburg answered right back thanks to a 56-yard TD strike to a wide-open Andrew Dantin down the seam, the point after was good and the Vikings were back within 1 with 3:19 to go in the first.
Porter was knocked out of the game with an apparent rib injury, a big blow for the Cavaliers offense, because the Appalachian State commit was on track for a big night. Veteran Hudson Talley replaced Porter, but was intercepted by the Vikings Jayden Coleman on his first play from scrimmage setting up Spartanburg at the Dorman 15 yard line.
Jeter's 2nd touchdown run of the night came from 1 yard out with 1:04 still left in the first quarter, propelling the Vikings back out to a 6-point lead.
Mitchell Powell entered the game at quarterback on Dormans next drive and the third quarterback of the night couldn't get much going.
After 36 combined first quarter points, the first half ended with multiple stalled drives and zero points as Spartanburg led 21-15 at the break.
Dorman started the second half with the ball and got their run game going. However, the Cavaliers turned the ball over again, this time on a fumble recovered by Cam Smith in the red zone.
The energy in the stadium was all on the visitor's side as Dorman supporters were left frustrated after such a promising start to the second half.
Spartanburg ultimately cashed in off of the turnover with a 15-yard Rah'keith Kelly touchdown run extending the lead to 28-15 with 5:34 remaining in the game.
The Dorman offense became one dimensional and struggled to find any rhythm in the third quarter. After a Cavalier punt, Rah'keith Kelly took the first play of the drive 49 yards but was tripped up at the 1-yard line. Jeter took in his third rushing score of the night to give the Vikings a 20-point lead late in the third quarter. The only thing holding the Vikings back at this point were penalties, they committed 14 penalties for 116 yards on the night.
Dorman strung together some physical runs en route to an 18-yard Demarius Foster touchdown scamper with 1:45 in the third, the team's first points since the scoop in score in quarter 1.
After a Spartanburg personal foul on the extra point, Dorman attempted the first of several onside kicks. The Cavs recovered and were in business at the Viking 30-yard line. A few minutes later, Mitchell Powell found tight end Cason Gilliam for a big 11-yard touchdown connection. After a blocked extra point, Dorman had cut the lead to 35-28 with 11:48 remaining in the contest.
Dorman opted for another onside kick which they nearly recovered as the ball was juggled around near the sideline before rolling out of bounds.
The Viking offense then made their way down the field and hit pay dirt with a 18 yard scramble touchdown pass from Jeter to Andrew Dantin. After the PAT, Spartanburg led 42-28 with 8 minutes to play.
The Cavs answered right back with a long run-heavy drive capped off by a Demarius Foster 3-yard touchdown plunge to again pull Dorman within a touchdown with 3:57 remaining.
The Cavaliers ensuing onside kick attempt bounced off of the Vikings hands team and was recovered by Dorman.
The Dorman drive came to a 4th and 3 when Foster ripped off a 13-yard run to extend the drive and get into the red zone. Foster soon capitalized with a 5-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds remaining made the score 42-41 Spartanburg.
Dorman coach Dustin Curtis decided to go for the win with a 2-point attempt. Left tackle DJ Geth lined up in the backfield to take a direct snap. Geth ran the ball left where he was met by Viking defenders 3 yards short of the goal line.
The next Dorman onside kick attempt was a controversial one. The kick took a big bounce and was recovered by the Cavaliers, however, the ball only travelled 9 out of the 10 required yards. Spartanburg then went into victory formation to end this breathtaking game.
Raheim Jeter was awarded Panthers Big Friday MVP honors after compiling 163 total yards with three rushing and two passing touchdowns.
Demarius Foster was an explosive workhorse for the Cavaliers as he ran 36 times for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Spartanburg clinched the region's #2 seed and a home playoff game while Dorman fell to the #3 seed and will travel to Clover to begin their postseason.
View photos from Friday's Big Friday matchup between Spartanburg and Dorman.