COLUMBIA — Senior quarterback Noah Bell scored six touchdowns as Saluda defeated Barnwell, 39-14, and the Tigers won the Class 2A state championship at Benedict College.
The state title is the Tigers’ first since 1963 and completes an improbable run through the playoffs this season.
Saluda scored touchdowns on three straight possessions to start the game. Bell scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown to cap a 9-play, 77-yard opening drive. He hit Wright on the second play of the Tigers’ next drive for a 68-yard touchdown pass.
Bell connected with Wright again for a 10-yard pass as Saluda went up 20-0 in the first quarter.
The Tigers went into halftime up 26-7 with 300 yards of total offense. The Tigers’ defense held Barnwell to 136 yards of total offense in the first half.
Barnwell’s first drive out of halftime was a 68-yard march that took nearly five minutes off the clock. Saluda forced Barnwell to go for it from the 10-yard line on fourth down. Barnwell quarterback Craig Pender scored a rushing touchdown on the play.
Saluda answered on its next drive, as Bell passed to Zaye Bryant for a 76-yard touchdown. Bell passed to Wright on the Tigers’ next drive for a 31-yard touchdown and Saluda went up 39-14.
With the win, Bell completes his Saluda career as the Tigers’ leader in total yards, passing yards and total touchdowns. He ranks third in the state with 153 total touchdowns.