Deo'Vonte Doe wasn't around for the Hilton Head Christian Academy football team's recent dominance over SCISAA Class 2-A. On Friday night, however, the senior running back served notice he's going to be a big part of any chance the Eagles have of maintaining their lofty status in 2013.
The Ridgeland-Hardeeville transfer gave Hilton Head Christian the spark it craved early against visiting Dorchester Academy and then delivered the play they desperately needed late as the Eagles won their home opener, 29-28, in dramatic fashion.
Trailing by six and facing a fourth-and-3 with just lass than three minutes remaining, Doe took a pitch from quarterback Brad Meccariello and raced down the left sideline for a 41-yard touchdown that would ultimately end the Eagles' season-opening two-game losing streak.
The touchdown, which helped erase a pair of earlier fumbles by the senior, was Doe's third of the game and capped an impressive second-half comeback for the Eagles who trailed 28-14 late in the third quarter.
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A little more than two minutes after Doe put them ahead, Ryan Barrett sealed the victory with an interception of junior quarterback Stokes Brownlee deep in the Eagles' own territory.
The impressive rally delivered a much-needed first victory of the season for Hilton Head Christian, which has endured an offseason of transition that included the departure of longtime coach Tommy Lewis after its fourth state championship in the past seven years.
"This wasn't a perfect game for us by any means, but the guys showed a lot of heart by coming back the way they did in the second half," head coach Ryan Mitch said. "We still have a lot of things to work on but we really needed this one."
Indeed, the Eagles' performance, which included several turnovers and ill-timed penalties, was not a work of art, but thanks to the newest member of their program it was the win that they desperately needed after a pair of uneven road performances to open the season.
In addition to the game winner, Doe rushed for two first-quarter touchdowns that gave the Eagles a much-needed lift early in the game against the Raiders.
"I made some mistakes in the game and I wanted to be the one to make up for them to help get this team the win," Doe said. "There's no way we wanted to lose three games in a row and everyone really worked hard at the end to make sure we didn't do that."
After starting the game strong and taking a 14-6 lead into the second quarter, things went a little sideways for the Eagles, who gave up 22 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to fall behind by two touchdowns late in the third quarter.
The rally began late in that period, however, when tailback DeAngelo Clark scored on a 20-yard run with just more than a minute left. A Raiders penalty on the ensuing extra point attempt prompted Mitch to go for two, and Clark cashed in again from a yard out to pull the Eagles to within six. The score was set up by an Eagles fumble recovery that gave them the ball at the Raiders 30-yard-line.
The defense rose to the occasion again on the next Dorchester possession. After a 16-play Raiders drive that erased more than 10 minutes off the clock, the Eagles forced Dorchester over on downs with a big stand deep in their own territory to get the ball back with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
Two fourth down conversions and 81 yards later, Doe raced across the goal line with his third score of the game and the Eagles had finally rediscovered their winning ways that had eluded them early in this campaign.
"We didn't make all the right plays tonight but they guys showed plenty of heart and I'll take that," Mitch said. "We have plenty of work to do but this was a big win for us against a really good team tonight."
Hilton Head Christian Academy 29, Dorchester Academy 28
HHC 14 0 8 7 -- 29
DA 6 14 8 0 -- 28
HHC--Deo'Vonte Doe 15 run (J.R. Moise kick)
DA-- Aron Herman 52 pass from Stokes Brownley (kick failed)
HHC--Doe 15 run (Moise kick)
DA--Jordan Weathers 1 run (run failed)
DA--Vance Collier 5 run (Jacob Reeves pass from Weathers)
DA--Collier 1 run (Austin Mizzel pass from Brownley)
HHC--DeAngleo Clark 20 run (Clark run)
HHC--Doe 41 run (Moise kick)