Maybe it did not show during a tough two-week stretch against much bigger opponents, but the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School football team entered Region 6-AA determined to be the more physical team.
After easing past Burke with the help of some power running, the Jaguars' defense closed the running lanes just long enough at Battery Creek High School on Thursday. Ridgeland-Hardeeville defeated the Dolphins 28-26 to improve to 2-0 in region with an angle on a home playoff game.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville coach Blake Raley said the Jaguars' keys during the week of practice had been alignment, assignment and execution. The Dolphins' various formations and shifty running backs were the worry.
"We were ready for everything," Jaguars defensive back and receiver Gavin Bush said.
Battery Creek's ground game was stalled during the first half. It didn't earn a first down until 8:59 remained in the second quarter and managed just two first downs before halftime.
Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said the Jaguars loaded up the outside to stop the Dolphins' sweep and outside veer. After halftime, Battery Creek pounded inside with the veer and trap and the yards began piling up.
"Our guys just came out with a heart of gold and wanted to play as hard as they possibly could to get that second win in conference," Shuman said.
Senior running back Josh Roberts, playing his third game after transferring from Beaufort High School before the season, rushed for 131 yards to help lead the Dolphins.
A last-minute comeback fell short when Battery Creek's third-down pass was intercepted inside the Ridgeland-Hardeeville 20-yard-line.
Raheem Cooper's 89-yard kickoff return with a minute remaining in the first half provided Battery Creek a temporary boost.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville quarterback DJ Myers continued his progression with another big game, accounting for three touchdowns before halftime and adding another scoring run during the third quarter to provide enough cushion. Myers was 9 for 15 the previous week during a victory over Burke, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
He avoided throwing an interception again Thursday. And his 16-yard touchdown pass with 1.5 seconds remaining in the first half halted the Dolphins' momentum after the kickoff return.
"We see him getting a little bit better each week, a little bit better each week," Raley said. "We think he can be a running threat.
"We didn't block as well as we wanted to, but we'll take the road win, that's for sure."
Ridgeland-Hardeeville 28, Battery Creek 26
Ridgeland-Hardeeville 7 15 7 0 -- 28
Battery Creek 0 7 12 7 -- 26
R-H -- DJ Myers 1 run (Hector Vera kick) 2:54
R-H -- Myers 18 run (Vera kick) 1:13
BC -- Raheem Cooper 89 kick return (Juan Carlos Negron kick) :59
R-H -- Frank Fields 16 pass from Myers (Gavin Bush run) :1.5
BC -- Cooper 15 pass from Yuneek Crittendon (kick failed) 6:15
BC -- Mahan 1 run (run failed) 3:37
R-H -- Myers 2 run (kick failed) 1:18
BC -- Mahan 1 run (Negron kick) 2:54
First Downs 11 11
Rushes-Yards 29-106 39-213
Comp-Att-Int 7-16 3-17-1
Passing Yards 96 39
Punts-Avg 6-37.5 4-33.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 12-80 4-21
Third-Down Conv 5-14 3-12
Fourth-Down Conv 0-1 3-3
PASSING: Ridgeland-Hardeeville -- DJ Myers 7-16-96; Battery Creek -- Zach Mahan 2-15-24, Yuneek Crittendon 1-2-15-1.
RUSHING: Ridgeland-Hardeeville -- Myers 13-58, Shawn Wilson 14-43, Gavin Bush 2-5; Battery Creek -- Josh Roberts 17-131, Crittendon 12-83, Mahan 11- (-1).
RECEIVING: Ridgeland-Hardeeville -- Frank Fields 2-52, Bush 3-22, Wilson 2-17; Battery Creek -- Isaiah Sloan 1-17, Raheem Cooper 1-15, Eric Freeman 1-7.