By Justin Jarrett
De’Shaun Epps is hard enough to stop, but Richard Winn Academy made the mistake of making him angry.
Epps capped a night of highlight-reel runs with a 92-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, flattening one defender, spinning away from another and sprinting to the end zone to help put the finishing touches on Beaufort Academy’s 66-34 win in the first round of the SCISA 8-Man playoffs Friday.
“They kind of got me mad over there because the sideline was talking,” said a smiling Epps, who rushed for 370 yards and seven touchdowns on 17 carries.
“He’s reading blocks real well, and the timing is good,” BA coach Mark Clifford said. “He’s so fast, the linemen have to be fast. You’ve gotta go, or he’s going to run up your back.”
BA quarterback Dawson Coleman rushed for 72 yards and a score and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to William Tumlin, and Edward McCormick racked up 12 tackles and an interception to anchor the defense and added a rushing TD of his own.
Richard Winn showed signs of life when it pulled within 33-20 with a long touchdown pass with 44 seconds left in the half, but the Eagles answered quickly with Epps capping the drive by bouncing a run to the outside and splitting two defenders before sprinting to the end zone.
The Eagles have topped 60 points six times in Clifford’s first season coaching 8-man football, where his pounding run-heavy offense is a perfect fit.
“I’m loving it,” Clifford said. “I’m having a great time. We’ve got, obviously, a small team, which means a tighter team, a more cohesive team. They’re all about execution. Everybody blocks and everybody tackles, and we’ll do the same thing next week. We won’t change anything.”
And one of his favorite things about the 8-man game?
“In this league, you win one game and you’re in the semifinals,” Clifford said.
Indeed, the Eagles (8-2) travel to Jefferson Davis on Friday, and the winner will be bound for the state championship game, likely against three-time defending champion Andrew Jackson Academy – a rematch BA would relish after a 40-28 loss to the Confederates last month.
For now, though, they’re just happy to keep playing another week.
“Like coach said, the clock is 0:00 and we’re practicing on Monday,” McCormick said. “We’re gonna watch a lot of film and practice hard all week.”
BA’s McCormick, Epps Headline 8-Man All-Region Team
The postseason accolades began to roll in for the Beaufort Academy football team last week.
Senior linebacker Edward McCormick was named SCISA 8-Man Region 1 Defensive Player of the Year and junior running back De’Shaun Epps earned region Offensive Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive season.
Offensive lineman Daniel Richards, quarterback Dawson Coleman, receiver/kicker William Tumlin, and defensive lineman Elijah Fess joined McCormick and Epps on the all-region team.
McCormick piled up 130 tackles (13 for loss) and 11 sacks in the regular season to anchor the Eagles’ defense, and Epps rolled up 1,952 rushing yards, 201 receiving yards, and 41 total touchdowns in nine regular-season games.