Bryce Lybrand was likely to cry after Friday night’s game against Myrtle Beach either way, but he sure would have preferred tears of joy. Beaufort High’s second-year head coach instead shed tears borne of pride, defeat, and maybe just a dash of excitement for what’s to come.
The Eagles came up short in the Class 4A Lower State semifinals, losing a 49-37 shootout with the perennial-power Seahawks, but they fought to the last play and showed Lybrand how strong his program’s foundation has become and how much potential it has yet to tap.
“I’m so proud of them, they played so hard,” Lybrand said. “There were several times tonight when they very easily could have quit and just said it’s out of reach, we’re done, and they just never did that. They kept fighting. To me, that’s a step in the right direction for our program.”
The Eagles landed the first blows, as Daniel Phares picked off Burger on the first series, setting up the first of Beaufort quarterback Tyler Haley’s two touchdown runs, but Andrew Doss took over after that. The power-packed back sliced through every hole the Seahawks’ offensive line was able to open against a stout Beaufort defensive front and capped off back-to-back drives with short touchdown runs to give Myrtle Beach a 14-7 lead.
It looked like the Seahawks might be in a bind when Doss limped off holding his lower back late in the second quarter, but he came back two players later to line up in the wildcat and punch in a 2-yard touchdown and added a punctuating score late in the fourth quarter.
“It’s the playoffs,” Doss said. “I got banged up, definitely, I had a bunch of carries, but even if I had a broken bone, I’m going out there for my team. It’s a team sport, and I had to play my part for us to win.”
The turning point came near the end of the first half, when Beaufort was driving and looking to cut into a 21-10 deficit before getting the ball to start the second half. Myrtle Beach’s TJ Auston changed those plans, picking off Haley near the goal line and returning it to the Beaufort 8-yard line. On the next play, Burger found Jones for the first of their three touchdown hookups and a 28-10 halftime lead.
The Eagles kept swinging, though, and Jaylin Houseal broke a long run to set up Amariee Morris for a 4-yard touchdown to get Beaufort back within two scores with 5:56 left in the third quarter. But the Seahawks never let up, putting together another impressive drive that ended with Jones hauling in a ridiculous one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone.
Haley broke a 75-yard run on the next play to set up his own touchdown run, but Myrtle Beach held serve again, in an unorthodox manner. Facing fourth-and-long, the Seahawks lined up for a field goal before shifting into an offensive formation, and Burger looked deep for Jones. Flags came out for defensive pass interference, but the pass deflected off the defender’s helmet and Jones snagged it for a touchdown.
The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the way, but Beaufort couldn’t close the gap thanks to the Seahawks’ unstoppable offense. Still slowed by an ankle injury, Burger was able to scramble for big gains when he couldn’t find an open receiver, and Doss and Jones were simply too much for the Eagles.
“All credit goes to Myrtle Beach,” Lybrand said. “They earned it, man. They won.
“We’ve just gotta keep taking the steps. I’m so proud of these guys, and our seniors were phenomenal. It stings, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
Story and photos by Justin Jarrett