Beaufort High coach Bryce Lybrand said his team needed to be locked in for its first-round SCHSL Class 4A playoff matchup against West Florence on Friday. The Eagles were locked and loaded.
The Eagles dominated on both sides of the ball like they have all season at home, rolling to a 45-14 victory to move on to the Lower State semifinals.
Amariee Morris rushed for 100 yards and four touchdowns, Tyler Haley passed for 217 yards and added 89 rushing yards and a TD, and Beaufort’s defense shut out the Knights in the first half in its most impressive performance of the season.
The Eagles were determined and maintained their focus throughout all four quarters, but they set the tone early. On the first offensive drive for West Florence, the Eagles’ relentless defense forced a three-and-out — a theme that repeated throughout the night — while Beaufort’s offense moved the ball down the field quickly and finished the drive off with a gashing run up the middle from Kacy Fields.
The quick score ignited a spark for the rest of the night. The defense came up with another stop and gave the ball back to the Eagles’ vigorous offense, which needed just two plays to add to the lead on Haley’s 33-yard TD run to make it 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Eagles continued to control the line of scrimmage and forced the Knights to punt deep in their own territory, and a botched snap resulted in a safety, setting up another impressive offensive series. Beaufort started to ramp up the run game and pounded the ball down the field, culminating with the first of Morris’ four TDs and a 23-0 lead.
The Knights finally came up with a stop early in the second quarter and drove to the Beaufort 4-yard line with a chance to cut into the deficit before halftime. But the Eagles’ defense came in clutch with a crucial stop when linebacker Daniel Phares picked off a pass to preserve the first-half shutout.
The Eagles came back with the same energy in the second half, with another breakout rushing TD from Morris, who broke out of several tackles for a 49-yard TD to make it 30-0. The Knights responded with a quick drive down the field that ended with a 10-yard TD reception by Stephen Smalls, but Terence Wilson blocked the PAT attempt, and it was 30-6 midway through the third quarter.
West Florence recovered an onside kick and drove to the 20-yard line before turning over the ball, and the Eagles rolled down the field and handed the ball to Morris and he rumbled in for a 27-yard TD to put it out of reach.
Beaufort’s defense kept up its dominance and forced another punt from deep in Knights territory that resulted in a second safety thanks to a high snap. The Eagles took advantage of the ensuing possession, as Haley hooked up with McLeod Reichel for a 50-yard pass, setting up Morris’ fourth TD run of the night. Reichel and Fields combined for more than 200 receiving yards.
The Eagles will host the Myrtle Beach Seahawks in the second round of the playoffs Friday. The teams haven’t met since the Seahawks’ 48-7 home win over the Eagles in the 2017 playoffs. This time, having the home-field advantage might come in handy for the Eagles, who are 5-0 on their home turf in 2020.
Story and photo by Gabriel Jenkins