HSFB 2022: BA grinds out win in back-and-forth battle with THA

The frustration was emanating from the Beaufort Academy sidelines all night as the dropped passes, penalties, and turnovers mounted. But the trust in each other never wavered — and it carried the Eagles back to a special win on their home field. 

Devonte Green crossed the goal line on fourth-and-inches with 40 seconds left, and Beaufort Academy rallied late Friday to edge Thomas Heyward 31-27 for the program’s first-ever 11-man win over the Rebels.

“It started with our offensive line,” BA quarterback Braydon Dineen said. “They’ve been working ever since May of last year. We really depend on them a lot, and giving the ball to Green and Jaxen Porter really makes it easy for me, too.”

Photos by Ariana Gonzalez / BA student

Friday night couldn’t have started out much worse for the Eagles, who went three-and-out on their opening drive before a high snap on the ensuing punt was recovered by Heyward at the 1-yard-line. The Rebels promptly punched it in on the first play from scrimmage, as Anthony Fripp zoomed in for an early 6-0 lead. 

Beaufort Academy’s offense continued to sputter early with a pair of dropped passes including one in the end zone, but Zeke Gonzalez came through with a 35-yard field goal to put BA on the board. The Eagle offense awoke after a huge Warren Benjamin sack forced a punt, and a spark from Te’Shaun Heyward on a 32-yard run set up a Dineen sneak from the 3 to take a 10-6 advantage. 

Benjamin and a hard-working BA defense held down the Rebels again, and Dineen got back to work under center. After some tough luck in the first quarter, the senior veteran caught fire in the second, hooking up with Gonzalez on a clutch third-and-10 down the left sideline. Dineen then found Porter for 14 more yards before the quarterback took it himself from the 5 for his second rushing touchdown of the night and a commanding 17-6 lead. 

It was crunch time for the Rebels late in the first half, and Tony O’Banner responded, showing off his electric speed down the sideline for a 34-yard run and finishing off the drive with a burst into the end zone on fourth down to make it a 17-14 game at the break. 

The Eagles got the break they needed to start the second half, as Shuford zinged the ball off the hands of receiver TyShon Mansell and into the arms of the diving Dineen for a huge takeaway. But he handed it right back to Cutter Williams on a pick in the end zone to lose out on a potential two-possession lead.

Instead, the pendulum swung the other way, as O’Banner broke loose for a 19-yard run before Williams delivered again on a 35-yard reception from Shuford. What was nearly a commanding BA advantage was now a 20-17 lead for Thomas Heyward. 

BA’s offense showed its mettle on the ensuing drive, taking it 72 yards for a go-ahead score thanks to two explosive plays from Heyward before Dineen’s third touchdown sneak of the night put the Eagles back on top 24-20. 

But that lead lasted only seconds. 

The freshman phenom O’ Banner showed off his wheels yet again on an eye-popping 45-yard touchdown run, hurdling a defender and stiff-arming another to the ground on his way to the end zone and a three-point Rebel lead. Then the defense stepped up for the Rebels, as big Lawson Hewlett stuffed Dineen to force the football out and recovered it himself to set up his offense at the BA 15. 

Heyward was just a handful of yards away from surely stealing one on the road in the fourth quarter, but BA’s defense had other plans, devouring the Rebels at the line to make a critical stop. It was deja vu for the Beaufort Academy offense on the next drive with another fumble, but the Rebels coughed it up themselves, giving the Eagles another chance from their own 37. 

And this time, they made the Rebels pay. 

Photos by Ariana Gonzalez / BA student

Fueled by an unrelenting effort from the offensive line, Green and Porter led a dazzling march down the field to set up a first-and-goal at the five with under two minutes to play. Porter brought it to the one on first down, but a stuff and a false start brought it back all the way to the 6 for third down, Porter again fought his way to the one to set the stage for a game-deciding fourth-and-inches. 

With the student section holding its breath on the sideline, Green came through in the clutch, powering through the Rebel line and into the end zone to go back on top 31-27 with 40 seconds to play. BA sent numbers deep to defend against the pass, and Gonzalez sealed it in center field, picking off a Shuford prayer to seal a long-awaited victory over the Thomas Heyward Rebels. 

The one-two punch of Green and Porter came alive down the stretch, as Green totaled 114 rushing yards and the game-winning score on 15 carries while Porter added 20 attempts for 113 yards. Heyward put up a very efficient game for the Eagles, going for 62 yards on 6 carries and catching a 20-yard pass. Dineen’s leadership and clutch factor was on full display, adding three rushing touchdowns along with an interception on defense

O’ Banner paced the offense for Thomas Heyward, leading all rushers with 173 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

Beaufort Academy (6-2) hosts undefeated Colleton Prep on Friday in a potential region title clash, while Thomas Heyward (5-2) looks to rebound at home Friday against Pinewood Prep. 

By Wes Kerr


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