CENTRAL — Daniel got thrown a late curve in its preparations, but it turned out to be right in the Lions' wheelhouse.
One day after finding out they would be facing a different team from originally expected, the Lions scored five first-half touchdowns and beat Blue Ridge 49-17, Friday night in the second round of the Class 3A high school football playoffs at Singleton Field.
The Lions (10-2) play host to Chester next week in the third round.
Blue Ridge (10-2) had lost in the first round last week, but received a playoff mulligan when Lower Richland had to forfeit that victory for having an ineligible player.
Word of the change didn't come Thursday, which left Blue Ridge coach Wade Cooper and staff scrambling to reassemble his team and forcing Lions coach Randy Robinson and his staff to make late adjustments. Robinson said he and his staff were still looking at video less than two hours before kickoff.
"I didn't hear any complaining even though (the players) were facing adversity," Robinson said. "In fairness, Blue Ridge was, too; It works both ways. I was proud of our guys for pretty much erasing Lower Richland out of their minds and putting Blue Ridge over there."
After preparing to face an even-front defensive look from Lower Richland for most of the week the Lions had to adjust to Blue Ridge's odd-man look on short notice.
Daniel looked like it never skipped a beat, scoring on all four first-half possessions and taking on another score on a kickoff return.
Jae'lon Oglesby and Tyus Gaines both scored twice in the first half for the Lions. Jared Dillingham added three scores, including two in the second half. Quarterback Andy McCall was effective directing the offense, completing nine of 12 passes for 121 yards.
"It was tough (switching preparation on short notice," Gaines said. " But the coaches said the stay mentally prepared and that's what we did as a team."
Gaines said getting a lead early was big. "We knew they'd come out energized and ready because they had a new life and didn't want to lose," he said. "Coaches told us to stay focus and to get the win."
Oglesby, a junior who has committed to Clemson, had 124 yards rushing on 11 first-half attempts and didn't play after intermission.
"We didn't want to overuse him," Robinson said. "We're at the point in the season where know what Jae'lon can do. If we need him, he's ready to go."
The Lions sprinted down the first on their first possession, with Oglesby going the final 22 yards with 9:34 left in the first period.
Blue Ridge answered with a nice drive, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by John Michael Bright at 4:29 left in the first quarter.
Gaines wrested momentum back over to the Daniel sideline, taking the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown with 4:14 left in the quarter.
"We've spent so much time on kickoff returns and we finally broke one down the sidelines," Robinson said. "It was a good job by Tyus."
"The guys did a good job of blocking for me," Gaines said. "Coaches told us on the sideline we've got to keep focused and keep pushing. If we do our assignments we'll score, and that's what we did."
Blue Ridge momentarily dodged further trouble when a 57-yard punt return for a Daniel touchdown was negated by a penalty. Daniel still got points out of the drive, with Jared Dillingham going in from a yard out with 9:23 left in the first half.
Brennan Griffin took a short pass from Ty Montgomery, went from sideline to sideline and scored on a 22-yard pass play to pull Blue Ridge closer.
But quarterback Andy McCall spotted Gaines behind the Tigers' secondary for a 46-yard touchdown and Oglesby went 53 yards to score with 16.1 seconds left in the half to make the score 35-10.
Mikal Robinson scored a third-quarter touchdown for Blue Ridge but Dillingham's final two scores allowed the Lions to maintain a comfortable edge.