Jamario Williams needed only one word to describe the last two weeks for his Hilton Head Christian Academy football team.
The Eagles were walloped in their season opener, 37-0, by Class 3-A SCISAA power Hammond School back on Aug. 17. And thanks to an unusually early bye the next week, Williams and Co. were forced to sit and reflect on an otherwise forgetful showing against the Skyhawks for 12 days before finally taking the field Thursday night against Bible Baptist.
"It was hard," Williams said. "Coaches kept reminding us at practice that we have to keep working. We kept each other focused, coaches kept us focused, we practiced hard.
"And we came to play."
Williams certainly came to play. The senior delivered two long touchdown catches for the Eagles, one of which broke a 22-all tie early in the fourth quarter, as Hilton Head Christian broke into the win column with a 36-22 victory over Bible Baptist.
"They relied on me," Williams said. "They said I had to make big plays. That's what I came to do."
The Eagles (1-1) led 15-6 at halftime, thanks in part to a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown by linebacker Clay Oliver. That's when coach Tommy Lewis challenged his skill position players to finally step up and replace the departed Alex Martin, the school's all-time leading receiver who graduated after last season.
"Needless to say, Jamario took it to heart," Lewis said. "He cut loose in the second half."
The wideout started things on the first play of the third quarter when he hauled in a pass near the far sideline from quarterback Caleb Lewis before turning up field for a 60-yard score. And after the Braves (1-2) rallied back to tie things up early in the fourth, Williams put the Eagles on top for good after turning a short screen pass into a 75-yard touchdown.
"We knew we couldn't give up, we knew they were a hard team," Williams said. "We kept pushing each other. We had to put each other on our backs and we had to come play."
Tailback Tyler Chisholm pushed the advantage to two scores on the Eagles' next possession, as the senior scored from 25 yards out. Chisholm finished with 101 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns, the first of which came on a 15-yard run late in the first half.
"We were anxious," he said. "We wanted to win this game really bad. It didn't work out for us in the first couple quarters, but we turned it around."
The offensive flurry in the second half helped stave off the Braves' stunning rally. Bible Baptist quarterback Keynnard Campbell led the comeback, compiling 351 yards of offense and three touchdowns. The junior ignited the resurgence with a 44-yard touchdown run before firing a 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth and long to Chad Boatright.
But the Eagles' defense shut the Braves down from there, holding the visitors scoreless over the final 9-plus minutes to secure the victory.
"What I loved about tonight was we showed the grit and determination we need," Tommy Lewis said. "We weren't playing that well, not playing consistently, but we were able to buckle down and get the job done."
Hilton Head Christian Academy 36, Bible Baptist 22
Bible Baptist 6 0 8 8 -- 22
HHCA 3 12 7 14 -- 36 FIRST QUARTER
BB--Luke Long 75 pass from Keynnard Campbell (pass failed), 11:09.
HHCA--Tyler Chisholm 43 kick, 0:00.
HHCA--Chisholm 15 run (kick failed), 4:46.
HHCA--Clay Oliver fumble recovery (rush failed), 0:44.
HHCA--Jamario Williams 60 pass from Caleb Lewis (Chisholm kick), 11:47.
BB--Campbell 44 rush (Aaron Stivey catch), 6:32.
BB--Chad Boatright 23 pass from Campbell (Campbell rush), 9:54.
HHCA--Williams 75 pass from Lewis (Chisholm kick), 9:36.
HHCA--Chisholm 25 rush (Chisholm kick), 7:51.
First Downs 17 14
Rushes-Yards 23-73 26-167
Comp-Att-Int 22-51-1 19-24-0
Passing Yards 271 205
Punts-Avg 4-16 1-33
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 10-70 8-76
Third-Down Conv 1-13 1-10
Fourth-Down Conv 5-9 2-5
BB --Keynnard Campbell 22-50-1-271, 2 TD, Chad Boatright 0-1-0-0; HHCA--Caleb Lewis 9-24-0-205, 2 TD.
BB --Keynnard Campbell 20-80, Malik Simmons 1-0, Chad Boatright 2-(-7); HHCA--Tyler Chisholm 12-101, Brad Meccariello 5-55, Jamario Williams 2-20, C.J. Evanofski 2-19, DeAngelo Clark 1-2, Caleb Lewis 4-(-30).
BB -- Luke Long 3-110, Aaron Stivey 7-58, William Campbell 7-56, Chad Boatright 5-47; HHCA--Jamario Williams 3-139, C.J. Evanofski 3-42, Tyler Chisholm 1-20, Ryan Barrett 1-4.