By Justin Jarrett
The desperation became evident when Beaufort High School faced a fourth-and-2 at its own 28-yard line and elected to go for it. Oh, yeah, it was the second quarter of a five-point game. And they were stuffed.
It really felt like that could have been the point when the Eagles’ season started swirling the drain. But the defense delivered a big play on the next snap, forcing a fumble that allowed Beaufort to get into the locker room without further damage.
When they emerged, they were a different team. Featuring an effective option attack and a stingy defense, Beaufort rallied for a 35-24 victory over visiting Bluffton on Friday, giving Bryce Lybrand his first victory as a head coach.
The night couldn’t have started much worse for the Eagles, who mishandled a pooch kick on the opening kickoff to set up Kylan Simmons’ 12-yard touchdown run, then muffed a punt and two more kickoff returns in the first half. The Bobcats weren’t able to cash in enough, though, settling for Evan Hayes field goals from 40 and 28 yards and a 12-7 halftime lead.
Beaufort’s offense came to life in the second half, as quarterback Daniel Phares — making his first start in place of Tyler Haley (shoulder) — spearheaded the Eagles’ option attack along with running backs James Dagin and Amariee Morris. Morris’ 3-yard run capped a 75-yard drive on Beaufort’s first series of the second half, and the Eagles never trailed again.
Phares delivered several daggers in the fourth quarter to put the Bobcats away, hitting Eddie Warren over the top for a 30-yard touchdown pass, putting a late option pitch on Dagin’s hands for an 8-yard touchdown run, and setting up his second touchdown run of the night with a long option keeper to make it 35-18.
Phares finished with a team-high 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, and he was 6-of-8 passing for 61 yards and a TD. Morris added 96 yards and a TD on 14 carries, and Dagin had 81 yards and a TD on eight attempts.
Bluffton’s Rakim White took a Lee Kirkland pass and broke a tackle en route to a 63-yard touchdown reception to make it 35-24, and the Bobcats recovered another onside kick, but they ran out of time.
William Winburn racked up 12 tackles, Kaedin Grissom had nine tackles and a key pass break-up, and Theo Washington added five tackles and two sacks to lead Beaufort’s defense.
The Eagles (1-5, 1-0) step out of region play to host undefeated May River on Friday.
Above: Beaufort High coach Bryce Lybrand (right) gives instruction to a player on the sideline during the Eagles’ 35-24 home win over Bluffton on Friday. It was Lybrand’s first win as a head coach.