The Beaufort Academy Eagles came into 2022 with high-level talent and high hopes for a special season. They’ve got to be feeling good after two road wins to open the schedule.
Jaxen Porter dominated with 124 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and a fumble recovery on defense, and the Eagles held off a furious Hilton Head Prep comeback on the road Friday afternoon to down the Dolphins 34-22.
“We have a chance to be pretty good,” Beaufort Academy coach Mark Clifford said. “We’ve got a great bunch of kids, very good character and chemistry. Our motto this year is ‘smarts and heart,’ and that’s what they got. They’re a pretty intelligent football team.”
Beaufort Academy’s potent ground attack had the edge from the start, and both Porter and Devonte Green began their outings with an electric run. A penalty in the red zone forced the Eagles to settle for a 28-yard Zeke Gonzalez field goal, but quarterback Braydon Dineen and BA quickly got the ball back again.
After a tremendous 28-yard run from Porter, the junior back fought his way to the goal line for a 3-yard score and a 10-0 BA lead. Then, it was Dineen’s turn to put on a show. He eyed his speedy receiver down the field, and aired it out to Te’Shaun Heyward who beat AJ Barger downfield for a highlight-reel 54-yard touchdown catch.
It was quickly getting away from Hilton Head Prep, who was stymied by a tenacious Beaufort Academy defense. The Eagle run game kept churning into the second quarter, as Green broke a tackle for a 30-yard run before Porter dived into the end zone for his second score of the game, giving the visitors a commanding 24-0 lead.
With its offense still finding its way, Hilton Head Prep’s defense provided the spark to put the Dolphins on the board. Sophomore Anders Askeland made the play, picking off Dineen and racing 40 yards to the house as the home crowd rose to its feet. But it didn’t take long for the Eagle run game to respond again. After a Gunnar Bonomo sack to set up 2nd-and-long at the HHP 24, Porter got loose again, slicing past the Dolphin defense and gliding down the sideline to tally his third rushing touchdown of the half and go up 31-6.
The Dolphins needed someone to take the reins on offense, and quarterback Wyatt Harmer stepped up with a dazzling throw, hooking up with Barger for a 75-yard gain to the BA 11-yard line with under a minute to play in the half. But a hard-working BA defense held down the Dolphins again as Gavin Midyette tipped away a ball intended for Barger on fourth down to pick up the clutch stop and head into the half.
Gonzalez added a second field goal to up the BA advantage to 34-6 and came up clutch again defensively on the ensuing drive, intercepting a pass to end a promising Dolphin drive before Brody Hausher quickly returned the favor with a pick of his own to get it back for Hilton Head Prep.
The Dolphins never stopped battling. Quarterbacks Harmer and Jason Braymiller showed improvements in the final quarter, orchestrating a six-play drive finished off by a textbook feed from Harmer to Barger over the midddle for an 11-yard score before Will Henry Alford hauled in a two-point try. Hilton Head Prep ended the afternoon on a high, stuffing a Beaufort Academy run on fourth down to set up one last scoring drive. Harmer found Alford for a 17-yard gain and Braymiller showed off his wheels with a 15-yard scamper to the end zone. Another successful conversion cut the deficit to 34-22, but Beaufort Academy scooped up the kickoff and salted away the rest of the clock to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Porter was a beast on both sides for the Eagles, rushing 14 times for 124 yards and three touchdowns while adding three tackles, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery on defense. His teammate in the backfield also eclipsed the century mark, as Green added 14 carries for 105 yards. Barger led the Dolphin offense, pulling in eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Loncelle Daley was kept in check by an excellent BA defensive front, rushing for 27 yards on 14 carries.
Both teams get a week off to reset beforeBeaufort Academy (2-0) hosts Greenwood Christian for its home opener and Hilton Head Prep (0-2) stays home to face St. Andrew’s on Sept. 9.
By Wes Kerr / Photos by Arianna Gonzalez (BA student)
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