Among the litany of qualities Bryce Lybrand loves about his Beaufort High football team is its ability to stay calm even when things are in disarray. The Eagles’ coolness under pressure paid off big time Friday night.
Kacy Fields scored three second-half rushing touchdowns to go with a kickoff return score in the first half as the Eagles clawed out of an 18-point hole to hold off visiting Crestwood 45-42 and advance to the third round of the Class 3A playoffs.
And the Knights gave them plenty of reason to worry.
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Crestwood quarterback Javion Martin set the tone early, leading an up-tempo offense that spread the field with dangerous receivers and sent Beaufort’s defense spinning. Martin marched the Knights down the field on their first two series before Fields awakened The Nest with an electrifying kickoff return to trim the margin in half.
The Eagles’ defense got their first stop, but an errant punt snap sailed over Jack Troutman’s head and through the end zone for a safety, and Crestwood converted the free kick into a field goal for a 19-7 advantage. After Troutman drilled a 45-yard field goal with several yards to spare, Beaufort seemed to have another stop and a shot to cut into the deficit further before halftime, but a running into the punter penalty prolonged a Knights drive and resulted in another field goal and a 22-10 margin at halftime.
Beaufort got the ball to start the second half but couldn’t take advantage, and Martin dumped a pass over the line to tight end Anthony Steele, who raced to the end zone for a score that made it an 18-point game and stunned the Kirkland Krazies and Co. back into silence.
“We were down 12 at halftime, so we just told them to go out and get a score and then get a stop, and we go out and get stopped and then give up a score, so we did the complete opposite of what we wanted to do,” Lybrand said on Lowco Pigskin Live on Friday night. “But these kids don’t panic.”
A brisk drive ending with Fields punching it in eased the home crowd back to life, and a quick stop and another Fields plunge three minutes later cut it to 28-24 and cranked the crowd up a notch. When Zach Talbert picked off Martin on the next offensive play and quarterback Samari Bonds bolted to the end zone to give the Eagles their first lead at 31-28, the place went nuclear.
The Eagles got it back with a coverage sack of Martin on fourth down, and they appeared to be driving for another score early in the fourth quarter when Bonds limped off the field. Ultimate utility player Colton Phares stepped in to run the wildcat and called his own number twice, breaking off a long run before darting to the end zone to make it 38-28.
Martin and the Knights responded with an impressive drive to cut it back to a three-point margin, but Fields found a big hole and ran away from everyone for his fourth touchdown of the night to make it a double-digit game again with 8:05 left. Martin held serve again, though, as Steele got free up the right sideline and hauled in a dime, and Crestwood’s defense forced a punt to get it back with a chance to take the lead.
Troutman hit a beauty and Thomas Purcy stuck the returner at the 15 to put the Knights up against it, and Phares made an acrobatic interception to allow Fields to grind out a couple of first downs and run out the clock on a wild one on Lady’s Island for Beaufort’s 10th straight win.
Fields was held in check for the most part in the first half but wore down the Knights to finish with 151 yards on 24 carries and three rushing touchdowns along with a kick return score, and Bonds added 88 yards and a TD on eight carries and was 5-of-11 for 64 yards. Phares rushed four times for 52 yards and a TD and had a 30-yard reception along with four tackles, two pass breakups, and the game-sealing pick, and Jack Sumner collected five tackles (two for loss) with two sacks and a quarterback hurry to help the Eagles ramp up the pressure and disrupt the Knights’ passing game in the second half.
“Really proud of the kids and coaches for making the adjustments,” Lybrand said. “At this point it’s not always gonna be pretty, so we’ll just take the win.”
The Eagles (10-1) will host Gilbert in a matchup of region champions Friday for a right to move on to the Class 3A Lower State championship game.
By Justin Jarrett / LowcoSports@gmail.com
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