High School Football

Beaufort High pushes past Bluffton in region opener, 35-27

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comOctober 11, 2013 

The play is called "Trainwreck," a goal-line play that sends seven defenders crashing the line of scrimmage.

Nothing scientific, with Bluffton High School needing only a couple of feet on fourth down to score and possibly tie rival Beaufort High School early in the fourth quarter. But the Eagles won the collision of bodies to stop Bluffton for a 4-yard loss.

"We blew it right up," said Beaufort High linebacker Andrew Smyth.

The Eagles would get two more fourth-down stops in their territory during the fourth quarter and hold off the Bobcats for a 35-27 victory and 1-0 start to Region 8-AAAA.

Bluffton dropped its second consecutive game to fall to 4-3 overall and 0-1 in the region.

Beaufort High running back Eric Blakely scored three times, including a 58-yard dash to create a cushion after the Eagles' stop at the goal line.

Eagles coach Mark Clifford said he thought Bluffton might be vulnerable on runs off-tackle. And Beaufort High converted 7 of 13 third downs, several by running on third-and-long.

"We're not very good throwing the ball on third-and-long," Clifford said. "I just figured we had a better chance running the football."

Bluffton fullback B.J. Hill gashed Beaufort High up the middle much of the night and finished with 169 yards and a touchdown. Smyth said Bluffton guards were getting to the Eagles' inside linebackers and that they finally moved up to compensate.

The defensive stops late in the game frustrated Bobcats coach Ken Cribb. He expected Beaufort High to try to take away the edges, leading to Hill's big night.

"They were wide, leaving the middle," Cribb said. "It don't matter, though, if you can't get it in the end zone."

The offense flowed early. The teams combined for 25 first downs during the first half.

Bluffton converted two first downs during a second-quarter touchdown drive. A fake punt on fourth-and-2, with Beaufort High lined up expecting the fake, extended the drive.

But the Eagles held when they needed, forcing a Davis fumble to set up their second scoring drive. And Smyth's interception and 17-yard return set up a Beaufort High score before the end of the first half.

Both defenses entered the game with injury questions.

Bluffton defensive lineman K.J. Ford returned for his first start since breaking his finger, his hand wrapped in a club. Beaufort High linebacker T.J. Watts was slowed by a twisted ankle but played the entire game and after the game carried a trophy awarded to the winning team by WHHI.

The Eagles next travel to Summerville, which opened region play with a win over Fort Dorchester. Beaufort High has pointed to team chemsitry and improved overall effort through a successful seven games after having lost four straight to open region play a year ago.

"I think we came in to not only this game, but this year, with the attitude that we were going to prove everyone wrong," quarterback Ben Vaigneur said. "And when you don't give us a chance to win a game, we're going to find a way to win it."

Beaufort High 35, Bluffton 27

Bluffton 7 7 13 7 -- 27

Beaufort High 7 14 7 7 -- 35

First quarter

BLF -- Jae Middleton 3 run (Ken Mayo kick) 8:28

BFT -- Stephen Baggett 14 pass from Ben Vaigneur (Brady Cormier kick) 5:06

Second quarter

BFT -- Jeffrey Tookes 1 pass from Vaingeur (Cormier kick) 8:37

BLF -- Jack Aerni 6 pass from Alex Davis (kick failed) 4:15

BFT -- Eric Blakely 1 run (Cormier kick) :29

Third quarter

BFT -- Blakely 11 run (Cormier kick) 7:36

BLF -- B.J. Hill 2 run (pass) 4:04

Fourth quarter

BFT -- Blakely 58 run (Cormier kick) 9:05

BLF -- Fumble recovery (kick failed) 6:35

Team Stats

BLF BFT

First Downs 21 20

Rushes-Yards 46-224 38-223

Comp-Att-Int 6-12-1 6-14-1

Passing Yards 88 73

Punts-Avg 1-48 4-40.3

Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-0

Penalties-Yards 3-25 3-35

Third-Down Conv 4-11 7-13

Fourth-Down Conv 3-5 1-1

Individual stats

PASSING: Bluffton -- Alex Hill 6-12-53-1, Chance Murphy 1-1-35; Beaufort High -- Ben Vaigneur 6-14-73-1.

RUSHING: Bluffton -- B.J. Hill 21-169, Jae Middleton 13-25, Alex Hill 8-24, Gerald Roberson 5-6; Beaufort High -- Eric Blakely 16-122, Jeffrey Tookes 14-83, Tarquez Johnson 4-23, Vaigneur 4- (-5).

RECEIVING: Bluffton -- Roberson 4-57, Murphy 1-15, Jack Aerni 1-6, Middleton 1-8, Hill 1-2; Beaufort High -- Stephen Baggett 3-45, Jawon Mack 1-16, Da'Quan Cason 1-11, Tookes 1-1.

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