Timberland football coach Art Craig began the first week of the Class AA state playoffs getting prepared to host Whale Branch. However, after the South Carolina High School League forced Oceanside Collegiate to forfeit three region contests, the Wolves were moved up to a No. 1 seed and welcomed Latta instead.

Still, Timberland had little trouble with the visiting Vikings, churning up more than 250 yards rushing in a 41-7 victory in St. Stephen.

“It was frustrating because my coaches sat up here for six or seven hours (last) Sunday preparing for Whale Branch,” said Craig, whose team moved to 7-2 overall. “We didn’t find out until 4 o’clock on Monday so we had to scramble. Considering that, I thought our coaches did a good job of preparing our kids to play tonight.”

Timberland will host Bamberg-Ehrhardt (8-3) Friday. The Red Raiders scored on the last play of the game to eliminate Mullins, 20-16. The Red Raiders’ heroics made ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10.

“They’re just big and physical and I think that’s going to be a slobberknocker. We’re going to have to be very disciplined,” Craig said.

The Wolves took the opening possession against Latta and marched right down the field, with Matthew Williamson capping the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Jamari Nelson added an 80-yard house call on Timberland’s next offensive snap to put the team up 12-0.

In the second quarter, the Wolves found the end zone twice in a seven-second span to more than double the advantage. Nelson added a 14-yard touchdown run, and the ensuing kickoff rolled to a stop near the right pylon, where Christopher Williams fell on the loose ball. The offensive line then paved the way for a four-yard scoring plunge by Williamson that made it 28-0.

“That was a weird thing. I think it kind of put them back on their heels a little bit and blew it open,” said Craig.

Nelson finished with 141 rushing yards.

Latta got on the scoreboard in the final seconds of the first half on a 35-yard pass from Chandler Matthews to Phillip Davis, but Timberland put the game out of reach in the third quarter with a pair of TD runs by James Alston.

“For the most part, our kids were pretty focused and did what they had to do. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but I’m excited to be moving on,” Craig said.

Defensively for Timberland, Omari Jenkins (16), Matt Williamson (12), Javar Jenkins (10) and Sam Moultrie (10) reached double digits in tackles for the Wolves. Jenkins and Moultrie combined for seven tackles for loss.

Jaylin Jefferson and Jaleen Richardson contributed nine and seven tackles respectively. Roman Wadford was in on six stops.

The winner between the Wolves and Red Raiders will play top-seeded Barnwell or third-seeded Burke High School.