BJ Payne’s Hilton Head Seahawks weren’t dealt the best hand the last few weeks. But back at full strength, his team came up all aces Friday night.
Troy Timko ran for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns, and the defensive line dominated in a 27-13 home win to hand Class 2A No. 5 Wade Hampton its first defeat.
“We knew the line was the strength of our team going in,” Payne said. “Our kids prepared, they focused this week, and they were ready.”
Hilton Head knew that it would be in for a tough task against a strong Wade Hampton run game led by Zion Dobson, but the Seahawks were ready for the challenge. The defensive line was stout from the onset, stuffing Chris Terry on a fourth-and-1 to set up the offense in Red Devil territory. A false start penalty pushed the Seahawks back on third down, but Carter Saleeby drilled a 37-yard field goal to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
The run game wasn’t working early for Wade Hampton, but the Red Devils turned to the air for the go-ahead score early in the second. After a play-action fake, Terry fired across the middle to a wide-open Dobson, who cruised in for a 41-yard touchdown. Wade Hampton’s Mandrell Sanders sacked Jackson Bibee on third down to halt the ensuing Seahawk drive, but Hilton Head’s stout defensive line continued to neutralize any progress on the ground for the visitors.
The Seahawks were driving again after Owen Bayes found his checkdown in Timko, who broke off a pair of tackles for a 25-yard gain. But the Red Devils stood tall in the red zone again, forcing another Saleeby field goal to cut the lead to 7-6. Alex Ruckno came up with an acrobatic interception on the first play of the next Wade Hampton drive, but the Seahawks couldn’t find the time to grab the lead before the buzzer.
Hilton Head’s defense was flying to begin the second half, and a massive stand inside the Wade Hampton 10 set the Seahawks up with excellent field position. A key facemask call pushed the ball to the Red Devil 12-yard-line, and Timko finished it off, storming in on a seven-yard touchdown run for a 13-6 advantage.
The pendulum began to swing the other way after Terry found Nigel Solomon inside the Seahawk 20, but the tenacious Seahawk defense had other plans. Carter Saleeby jarred the ball loose on a punishing hit, and it popped right into the arms of big Chris Marable, who carried it all the way to the Wade Hampton 22.
Two plays later, the ‘Hawks were back in the end zone.
Timko showed off his quick feet again, taking it 23 yards and scoring on the two-point try to extend the Seahawk lead to 21-7. The Red Devils were far from finished, as Terry led his offense on an eight-play drive capped off by a 3-yard Dobson run to make it an eight-point game.
Hilton Head needed a response to seal the game, and Owen Bayes got it started. zooming down the left sideline on a 51-yard run. Payne was faced with a tough decision on fourth-and-two from the Wade Hampton 20, and he put all of his trust in his red-hot running back and a sensational offensive line. The Seahawks proved their coach right, as Timko surged ahead for five more yards before capping off his stellar night with his third rushing touchdown for a 27-13 lead.
Wade Hampton quickly turned to the air with under two minutes to play, but the Seahawks stopped the drive on four plays to shut the door and hand the Red Devils their first loss.
Timko led the way with a dazzling performance on the ground, running for 109 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries while adding five catches for 40 yards. Bibee and Bayes split time and both were efficient under center, combining to complete 17 of 21 passing attempts. Bayes added 78 rushing yards on seven carries.
“Both of them did what they needed to do,” Payne said. “They were both great leaders, and that’s what it’s going to take for us to be successful.”
The Seahawks neutralized the potent ground attack of Zion Dobson, holding the junior to 19 yards and a score on 11 attempts — 1.7 yards per carry compared to his 6.8 average through four games. Chris Terry went 16-for-26 at quarterback for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Hilton Head (2-3) will have Friday off before hosting Bluffton for the Bridge Bowl in the Seahawks’ Region 7-4A opener on Sept. 30. Wade Hampton (4-1) returns home to face Bamberg-Ehrhardt on Friday.
By Wes Kerr / Photos by MB Lyons
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