Jason Winstead isn’t always certain which version of the Goose Creek High School football team will emerge from the locker room from day to day but the one that showed up Friday was dominant.
Gators quarterback Emmanuel Mukuamu threw four touchdown passes and the Goose Creek defense essentially pitched a shutout in an impressive 49-7 road victory at Cane Bay High School to kick off the Region 7-AAAAA slate.
It was the most complete game of the season for Winstead’s team. The Gators ended a three-game losing skid in the series with Cane Bay and lead all-time 6-3.
“We’ve been close to putting it all together but this team is not used to winning,” the second-year Gators coach said. “It’s hard to really tell the mood of this team at times. It’s a great job by them tonight and I’m proud of them.”
“It was good but there is still a lot to work on,” he added.
The Gators (3-2, 1-0 region) forced three turnovers and turned two into touchdowns to pull away in the second half. They scored four times to break open a 21-7 game and move into a showdown with Berkeley High School on Friday with momentum.
The Gators host the Stags (4-1, 1-0 region), who will be coming off a 43-13 win over Wando.
“Berkeley is the big dog,” Winstead said. “We’re just looking forward to the challenge. We’ll be there and hopefully we can play well.”
The Stags won 35-3 on their way to the region crown.
Mukuamu tossed two touchdowns in each half against the Cobras (3-3, 0-1 region) and also ran for a 2-yard touchdown. Receiver Damon Mouzon hauled in three of the scoring passes from 3, 6 and 13 yards and Malachi Taylor added a 13-yard touchdown grab.
Mukuamu finished 20 of 23 for 182 yards through the air and ran for 59 yards. Mouzon made eight grabs for 83 yards.
The Cobras’ option attack never got on track again after striking in the first two minutes following a blocked punt. Leon Staley’s 15-yard run gave Cane Bay a 7-0 lead less than two minutes in.
“(Cane Bay) is a tough offense to defend,” Winstead said. “Anytime you relax, they can hit something big. Our coaches and players did a great job preparing this week.”
Goose Creek’s answer was swift and the Gators never relented. Malachi Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards up the middle of the field for a touchdown 13 seconds after the Cobras’ lone tally.
The Gators finished off the Cobras with another highlight reel play in the fourth quarter. Receiver Jarred Jenkins took a screen pass from DJ Matthews and raced 73 yards for a touchdown, carrying it the final 50-plus after escaping a pile of Cobras defenders.
Taylor, Davis power Stratford in region opener
Running back Javion Taylor had 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns and quarterback Josh Davis ran for two touchdowns in Stratford’s 34-16 victory at James Island on Friday in the Region 7-AAAAA opener.
Taylor scored on runs of 6 and 86 yards for the Knights (3-2, 1-0 region). Davis passed for 128 yards and scored on runs of 42 and 1 yards. He finished with 54 yards on the ground as the Knights beat James Island for the third time in a row.
Jaedon Alston was the second-leading rusher with 62 yards. Matthew Cudd led Stratford receivers with 42 yards.
Jordan Ray made field goals from 41 and 20 yards for the Knights, who host Wando on Friday.
The Warriors are coming off a 43-13 loss to Berkeley.
The squads have two common opponents to date, Summerville and West Ashley. Wando beat both while Stratford lost to Summerville and defeated West Ashley.
Wando has won three straight in the series, including 31-17 last year.
Bishop England 35 Hanahan 3
Hanahan dropped to 0-5 on the season with a loss at Bishop England in the Region 7-AAA opener on Friday.
Blake Morros made a 30-yard field goal for Hanahan’s lone points.
Receiver Randy Scott made seven catches for 117 yards and also made an interception for Hanahan, which hosts Academic Magnet for homecoming on Friday.
Academic Magnet is 1-3.
Bucs break through for Denson
Charleston Southern gave first-year coach Autry Denson his first victory on Saturday.
CSU rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to clip visiting Savannah State on homecoming, 24-19, in front of a crowd of over 3,600.
The Bucs had lost their first four games. They begin the Big South slate at defending conference champion Kennesaw State at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
CSU quarterback Jack Chambers scored on a 1-yard run with 10:04 left as the Bucs took their first lead, 21-19. Alex Usry’s 35-yard field goal added some insurance.
Savannah State, which led 19-7 in the third quarter, fell to 3-2.
Chambers finished with 231 passing yards and two touchdowns but also threw three interceptions. His 13-yard strike to Jaquan Williams evened it 7-7 in the first quarter and 4-yard touchdown pass to Kameron Brown late in the third pulled the Bucs within 21-19.
CSU punter Kyle Reighard helped the Bucs get good field position in its go-ahead drive. After Reighard’s 72-yard punt to the Tigers 8, the Bucs held on a 3-and out and forced a short punt.
The Bucs went 36 yards in four plays to take the lead.
Running back Ronnie Harris led CSU’s ground game with 120 yards on 18 carries and Isaac Ross made seven catches for 71 yards.