Hilton Head island 22, Whale Branch 21

Hilton Head Island used a defensive score and three field goals to claim a hard-fought road win over Whale Branch in both teams’ season-opener.

Lance Jackson returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Collin Kaiser, and the Seahawks’ kicking game and defense pulled through late.

Jackson’s pick-six opened the scoring before Irvin Mulligan ripped off a 33-yard touchdown run to pull the Warriors even at 7. Mulligan punched in a 2-yard TD run for a 14-10 lead before Jacob Weaver connected for a 30-yard field goal to pull the Seahawks within 14-10 at halftime.

Whale Branch’s Jamel Moultrie returned the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for a 21-10 lead, but HHIHS’ defense and kicking game took over for the rest of the night.

Jonathan Orr booted the first of his two field goals, and one play after a Whale Branch fumble, Kaiser found Jackson for a touchdown to pull the Seahawks within 21-19. HHIHS couldn’t convert the 2-point try for the tie, but the Seahawks came up with a defensive stop and drove for Orr’s go-ahead field goal with 3:09 remaining.

Whale Branch drove inside the Seahawks’ 30-yard line before turning it over on downs to seal the result.

HHIHS (1-0) hosts Battery Creek next week, while Whale Branch (0-1) hosts May River.

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