SAVANNAH — It was a valiant effort from the Lowcountry squad, but the talent of the Coastal Empire prep football scene was a little too much this time, giving Georgia a 38-17 win in the 2020 Blitz Border Bowl on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The all-star game featuring high school senior football stars from local areas in South Carolina and Georgia was the last opportunity for many of the players to compete with and against their friends and end their prep careers on a high note.
“I had a fun time with new people and enjoyed being with them on the field,” said Bluffton wide receiver Rakim White, who was the offensive star for Team Lowco. “It was nice to have two great QBs who could get me the ball.”
White hauled in eight passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns — one each from Bluffton teammate Lee Kirkland and Hilton Head Christian Academy’s Hayden Shinn — to spark a second-half comeback, but unlike last year’s remarkable 35-34 victory, Team Lowco couldn’t finish the job this time.
The contest began with a slow grind and a flurry of inaccurate throws by the quarterbacks, but the two offenses found their groove after halftime. The difference in the game lay in the trenches, as the Coastal Empire’s defensive line dominated the Lowco blockers, eliminating any success in the run game. Shinn and Kirkland had to air it out, but a couple of mistakes, including a fourth quarter pick-six, sealed the team’s fate.
After last year’s Lowcountry triumph, the Coastal Empire now leads the all time series 2-1.
Team Georgia opened up a 10-3 lead and was driving again just before halftime until Kenneth Williams (Beaufort) made a clutch goal-line interception to keep it a seven-point game. After two more scores gave Coastal Empire a 24-3 lead, it looked like Team Lowco was going to get buried.
But they didn’t roll over.
White beat the vaunted Georgia defense for a 70-yard bomb from his teammate Kirkland, and made a leaping grab on a 10-yard goal-line fade from Shinn to get the Lowco back within two scores.
“Rakim and I have been doing that all year, so we’re pretty used to it and I like to throw it deep to him,” Kirkland said.
Down just two scores in the fourth quarter, Shinn had a real opportunity to make an exciting finish, but a miscommunication resulted in an interception and touchdown, essentially putting the game away.
White was the man for the Lowco squad, but Colleton County’s Trakell Murray also contributed to the comeback with three catches for 93 yards.
Shinn and Kirkland combined for 256 in the air and each threw a TD. Both interceptions came from the arm of Shinn.
Team Georgia’s Jaylen Wells (Beach) played an excellent game after a shaky start, throwing for three touchdowns. Two of the three went to West Virginia commit Sam Brown (New Hampstead), and the other was to Noah Hong (South Effingham).
Despite the loss, White and Kirkland enjoyed the last hurrah of their high school football careers, including the opportunity to play alongside many outstanding players and coaches outside of BLHS.
“I learned new things from other coaches, and it was a great time playing in this game,” White said.
His teammate added: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to play here this year.”
And Team Lowco will be back next year with a new crop of seniors, trying to bring the trophy back across the border.
Story by Wes Kerr / Photos by Brooke Simons
Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He has a passion for statistics and analytics.
Brooke Simons is a student-athlete at Hilton Head Island High School and an aspiring journalist. She has a passion for photography and broadcasting.