SC high school football player collapses, dies

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HARTSVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina high school football player died Friday night after having to be helped off the field following a tackle and then collapsing on the sideline.

Ronald Rouse, an 18-year-old senior lineman for the Hartsville Red Foxes, collapsed during the second quarter of Hartsville's homecoming game against Crestwood at Kelleytown Stadium, the Morning News of Florence reported (http://bit.ly/RjQL7M ).

The the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Rouse was involved in a tackle and stayed on the ground afterward, Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington wrote in an email. Team officials helped Rouse to his feet and he walked to the sideline, where he collapsed.

EMS crews worked to revive Rouse and transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Pennington said. The teams played the remaining 3:39 of the first half, and with Hartsville up 27-7, the school conducted its homecoming celebration and crowned a king and queen.

The players didn't return to the field for the second half, and Hartsville Principal Charles Burry announced over the public address system that the game was suspended due to the seriousness of Rouse's condition.

Some fans wept as the stands quietly emptied, the Morning News reported.

A large crowd, including team members still in uniform, gathered later outside the emergency room at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center consoled one another as they waited to express their grief to Rouse's family.

The mayor, who ordered flags be flown at half-mast, urged residents "to take a moment and ask God to be with this family, to help them find peace in this chaos, and to help this team deal with the grief and shock of losing a brother."

Darlington County Coroner J. Todd Hardee said in a statement late Friday that an autopsy will be conducted Saturday to determine the cause of death.

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