Hilton Head Prep head football coach Kevin Wald doesn't believe in moral victories.
"You either win or you don't. You still have an 'L' in the column," Wald said. "You take the positives, you correct the things you did wrong and you move on."
Wald's Dolphins lost on Friday evening, but he'll definitely have some positives to draw from.
Tyler Fox threw six touchdown passes and Hilton Head Prep scored 27 fourth-quarter points but came up short, falling 56-50 to Palmetto Christian at home. The Dolphins (2-2) trailed 36-7 at one point in the second quarter before rallying and outscoring the Eagles 43-20 the rest of the way.
The Eagles held a significant size advantage on the offensive and defensive lines, and early on, it showed.
"I thought they manhandled us on the offensive and defensive front in the first quarter," Wald said, "but in the second, third and fourth quarter, I thought we got better. Then we started tackling better, too, and it led to some good things for us."
While the Dolphins did improve as the game went on, ultimately they could not slow the Eagles' duo of quarterback T.J. Waters and running back Ryan Roe.
The tandem combined to rush 61 times for 364 yards and seven touchdowns to lead Palmetto Christian.
Waters and Roe repeatedly ran a read-option play to the inside that the Dolphins were slow to stop. And when Waters did run outside, the Dolphins seemed to underestimate his speed.
"Just a great player. A great player," Wald said of Waters. "At times we stopped him pretty good, but he found some creases and ran pretty hard."
Palmetto Christian's opening kickoff was onside and the Eagles recovered, scoring six plays later.
Hilton Head Prep struggled to execute its offense because of penetration. The Eagles added a second first-quarter score after Teron Daley lost a fumble at the Dolphins 10. Roe scored on the next play to make it 14-0.
"We gave them the ball on a short field," Wald said. "Obviously, turnovers hurt you because you lose possessions, and then they had the onside kicks, and then they got the ball first in the second half and that hurt us."
The Dolphins would trail 20-0, then 28-7 and eventually 36-7 before rallying. Hilton Head Prep went almost exclusively to the pass, and Fox was up to the challenge.
"He's really come into his own as a quarterback," Wald said. "He really managed the offense beautifully."
Fox's favorite target was Noah Sulek, who caught 10 passes for 153 yards and four touchdowns. But the highlight of the game was a perfectly executed hook-and-lateral.
From the Eagles' 23, Fox completed an 8-yard pass to the right hash. As four Eagles converged on Sulek, he pitched the ball to Daley coming around the end. Daley ran untouched for the score.
After Fox's fourth TD pass to Sulek with 2:54 remaining cut the lead to 56-50, the Dolphins attempted the onside kick, but Palmetto Christian recovered and ran out the clock. Wald praised his team's attitude and effort.
"Our kids wanted it in the fourth quarter. Really bad," Wald said. "We came up one play short. Had we gotten an onside kick, the way we got hot there, I believe we would have scored."
Palmetto Christian 56, Hilton Head Prep 50
PC 14 22 12 8 -- 56
HHP 0 14 9 27 -- 50
PC -- J.T. Waters 1 run (Ryan Roe run failed), 10:02
PC -- Roe 10 run (Roe run), :22.2
PC -- Roe 5 run (Waters pass failed), 9:20
HHP -- Noah Sulek 26 pass from Tyler Fox (Colin White kick), 7:30
PC -- Will Tuchfaber 6 pass from Waters (Iriart run), 4:20
PC -- Roe 1 run (Ben German pass from Waters), 1:42
HHP -- Zenon Parker 6 pass from Fox (White kick), :38.6
PC -- Waters 1 run (Waters pass failed), 3:45
HHP -- Safety, intentional grounding in the end zone, 1:46
HHP -- Teron Daley 85 free kick return (White kick), 1:31
PC -- Waters 21 run, (Waters pass failed), :11.6
HHP -- Sulek 10 pass from Fox (White kick blocked), 9:39
HHP -- Daley 15 off pitch; Sulek 8 pass from Fox (White kick), 9:10
PC -- Waters 27 run (Waters run), 7:32
HHP -- Sulek 58 pass from Fox (White kick), 6:45
HHP -- Sulek 9 pass from Fox (White kick), 2:54
First Downs 21 17
Rushes-Yards 68-380 23-87
Comp-Att-Int 8-19-0 26-41-0
Passing yards 116 266
Punts-Avg. 2-43.5 3-24
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 14-130 6-25
3rd down conv. 12-19 5-10
4th down conv. 3-5 1-3
PASSING: PC -- T.J. Waters 8-19-0-116, TD. HHP -- Tyler Fox 26-41-0-267, 6 TDs.
RUSHING : PC -- Waters 40-221, Ryan Roe 21-143, Davis Duel 7-16. HHP -- Teron Daley 16-76, Fox 7-11.
RECEIVING: PC -- Martinez Finley 2-40, Chase Shimakonis 2-37, Will Tuchfarber 2-12, Ben German 1-14, Andrew Johnstone 1-13. HHP -- Noah Sulek 10-153, Zenon Parker 6-42, John Larson 6-32, Sean O'Connor 2-15, Daley 1-19, Shaun Topper 1-6.