HSFB: HHCA lights it up in playoff opener (+VIDEO)

The Blackshear-Peduzzi Express is off to the races in the 2020 playoffs. Jace Blackshear ran for four touchdowns to lead an offensive explosion as the Hilton Head Christian Academy Eagles soared past Spartanburg Christian 63-27 Friday night to advance to the SCISA 2A semifinals.

The Eagles will host Pee Dee Academy next week with a trip to the state championship  on the line. 

“Offensively, we were very good. But defensively, we struggled,” HHCA head coach Ron Peduzzi said. “We gave up a lot of yards and a lot of points in the first half, but we came out in the second half and shut them out. Our big playmakers are making some plays, but we gotta get better on defense.” 

It was a clash between a ground-and-pound Spartanburg rushing attack and an electric pass-first Eagle offense. Both sides dominated the opposing defenses early. The Warriors received the opening kickoff and made a statement right away, putting together a clinical 10-play touchdown drive with the tandem of Daniel Osburne and Riley McDonald. 

But just as the visitors were celebrating an early lead, the Eagles landed a punch right back, with a 70-yard beauty from JP Peduzzi to Jace Blackshear. After a Spartanburg three-and-out, JP Peduzzi did it again, this time hitting freshman Isaiah Anderson off play-action in the back of the end zone for a 15- yard touchdown. A Guy Annunziata fumble recovery set the Eagles right back up in the red zone. This time, it was Blackshear taking a toss from Peduzzi and eluding the defense for a 10-yard score, capping off a quick 21 consecutive points. 

But the Warriors kept battling and got themselves right back in the game. On third-and-22, running back Daniel Osburne let it fly down the field and hit Dre’yon Quattlebaum for a 56-yard touchdown, catching the Eagles napping to cut the lead to eight points. But on the ensuing kickoff,  the do-it-all Cameron Strickland took it 65 yards to the house to restore the two-score lead. 

It was back-and-forth for the rest of the first half, as the Eagles struggled to make stops on the defensive side against an impressive Spartanburg rushing attack. Blackshear and Peduzzi reversed roles from the first score for an 11-yard TD catch for Peduzzi, before Blackshear found some wide-open grass on the right side of the field and turned on the afterburners for a highlight-reel 59-yard touchdown run to end the half with a 42-27 lead.

“Jace and John are unbelievable,” Peduzzi said. “We’ve gotta give credit to the offensive line, they did great. Bulldog Lanier and Gage Zatalokin did a great job. I thought we needed to get Strickland a little more involved in the offense, and Riley Shinn has been great the whole year, a team player and a grinder.” 

The Junkyard Dogs came back with a vengeance in the second half, pitching a shutout to pull away from a pesky Warrior side. It was put out of reach after a masterful opening drive to start the half, as Peduzzi orchestrated an eight-play series with some passes to Blackshear and Anderson before taking it In himself from 5 yards out. Blackshear took care of the rest of the Eagle scoring, adding two more rushing scores to put a bow on another brilliant night. 

The Eagles (10-0) had eight offensive possessions — and they scored a touchdown on every one. JP Peduzzi was the main man through the air, throwing for 192 yards and two scores. Blackshear was a real-life video game on the field, rushing for 152 yards and four scores while adding five catches for 165 yards and a TD, plus a TD pass to Peduzzi. 

Spartanburg Christian’s backs impressed too, with Osburne and McDonald each going over 100 yards. The two teams combined for over 800 all-purpose yards in an entertaining offensive shootout. 

It was another convincing win for Ron Peduzzi’s Eagles, but the head coach will expect much more from his squad next week if they want to make it back to the SCISA 2A state championship game. 

“The key’s gonna be the defense,” Peduzzi said. “Our offense has been pretty good, I don’t think we’ve reached the pinnacle of our offense to tell you the truth, but it’s gonna come down to the defense and how we do there.” 

Story by Wes Kerr / Photos by Brooke Simons

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