HSFB: Bobcats Shut Down Seahawks, Keep Bridge Bowl Cup

They already knew the region title and the top seed in the playoffs were theirs, but the Bluffton Bobcats were far from content Friday night. They wanted to make it clear they were the class of Region 7-4A.

The Bobcats ensured that message was received with a 29-18 home win over rival Hilton Head High, completed a perfect run through the region slate and maintaining their momentum going into the postseason.

Lee Kirkland threw a pair of touchdown passes, John Swinton added a rushing score, and Evan Hayes booted three field goals for the Bobcats, but it was Bluffton’s defense that carried the night.

Defensive lineman Ronald Reid was in the Seahawks’ backfield all night and the Bobcats forced four turnovers while slowing down Hilton Head High’s high-powered offense.

“We studied and knew what we needed to do,” Reid said. “Everyone did their responsibility, and we just locked it down.”

The Seahawks managed only two big plays — a 29-yard pass on a trick play to convert a fourth down, which led to Sterling White’s 2-yard touchdown run to tie it at 7, and White’s 63-yard catch-and-run to set up Diante Richard’s 2-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter.

Other than that, the Bobcats shut down the run game, pressured and frustrated quarterback Gaston Moore, and bottled up White and Richard.

Video by Carlo Perruzza

Bluffton’s offense got off to a quick start, as Kirkland completed his first six passes, including a 13-yard TD toss to Shamar Sandgren to open the scoring, but the Bobcats hit a lull. Kirkland completed just one of his next 13 passes, which included several drops, and the Seahawks were able to hang around by forcing the Bobcats to settle for field goals.

Jordan Murray’s interception set up Kirkland’s 17-yard TD pass to Rakim White to push the lead to 22-10 with 9:23 left, and Jaylon Thompson’s interception set up Swinton’s 10-yard bullrush into the end zone to put it out of reach.

“I know this one really matters to them,” Thompson said. “It would have made their season to win, but we had to come out and take care of it.”

The win improved the Bobcats to 6-4 overall and 3-0 in region play, and they will host an at-large team in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs Nov. 9. The Seahawks (4-5) hope to gain one of those at-large bids despite going winless in region play. They have one more chance to add to their resume with a win at Ridgeland-Hardeeville next week.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Seahawks coach B.J. Payne said. “I still think we can be a dangerous at-large. We just have to get in.”

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