How interceptions helped Daniel football win its third 3A state championship in four years

ORANGEBURG – Daniel football made a defensive play to win the state championship.

Three other ones made it possible.

The Lions stopped a two-point conversion in overtime Saturday night to beat Camden, 49-48, at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium and take their third Class AAA title in four years. Daniel finished a perfect 15-0 season and in fact has lost only one game in this four-year dynasty.

To get to the extra period, though, Daniel had to find some way to knock Camden (11-4) off schedule. The Bulldogs, mostly with their power running game led by 250-pound quarterback Grayson White, never punted.

But he was intercepted three times. And that was the difference. All three were critical.

Tremaine Davis Jr. had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown and another in the end zone. Isaac Turner had another on a tip by teammate Preston Rollins. Daniel turned those into 21 points, including a possible 14-point swing on the second interception by Davis.

“Our defense has been working so hard,” Daniel coach Jeff Fruster said. “They’ve been opportunistic all year. We definitely won the turnover margin for the season and until lately, it wasn’t even close.”

Daniel went up, 28-14, in the second quarter on the 51-yard touchdown by Davis.

“I felt like it was a momentum-changer,” Davis said. “After that, we got on a roll. It was one of the biggest plays, I think.”

On a quick pass toward the Camden sideline, Davis jumped into the route and never stopped until he got to the back of the end zone.

“I’ve been talking all week about how I was going to get that pick,” Davis said. “I’ve been watching film every day. I just knew they were going to do that play and I saw it coming.”

In the fourth quarter, Davis intercepted a fourth down throw to the end zone by White.

“I should have batted it down. Honestly, I thought it was third down,” Davis said. “But I just wanted the ball so bad.”

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Turner said he had a serious case of pregame anxiety that was still there during the first half.

“I had some jitters,” Turner said. “I just had to shake that off at halftime and get myself ready. It’s always hard for me to get going right off the bus, but guys were talking to me and helping me out.”

Turner's interception led to the second of three TD runs by Jakari Bennett and put Daniel up by 14 points again in the third quarter.

“I think it’s natural to have a little bit of jitters, especially on a stage like this,” Fruster said. “You just have to overcome that, which I feel like we did. We talked Friday about not letting your anxiety outmatch your hunger.”

This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: SC high school football: Daniel beats Camden in OT for AAA state title