Hilton Head Island High School finally has its moment.
After 1,428 days of taking the brunt of Bluffton's jokes, after surrendering 290 points over their previous five meetings and after trailing for a total of 267 minutes during a five-game losing streak, the Seahawks finally have something to crow about.
Hilton Head High 33, Bluffton 32. The streak is over.
"This game means a lot," coach B.J. Payne said. "It means a lot to the community. Nobody thought we had a chance. Nobody thought we'd have a chance at all."
The Seahawks kept their improbable unbeaten streak alive to improve to 5-0 while snapping a dubious five-game losing streak to the Bobcats. But this one wouldn't come easy, as Hilton Head High had to battle back from an 18-point second-quarter deficit before rallying again from a touchdown down in the fourth to stun their rivals in the 10th edition of the Bridge Bowl.
"It's such a good feeling," defensive tackle Poona Ford said. "I've been getting beat on by these guys since freshman year. I had enough of it. We had enough of it."
Ford had arguably his best game as a Seahawk, as the Louisville commitment recorded three touchdowns, four tackles for loss and a pair of sacks to deliver the rivalry trophy back to Hilton Head High. His third score of the night helped pull his team within one when Payne called for a fake point-after attempt to take the lead for good.
The play, dubbed "Orlando," was installed this week, Payne said. Kicker Thomas Farrell ran in the conversion at the left pylon after taking the pitch from his Seahawks holder.
"I told the kids we were going to run it," Payne said. "The amazing thing is we ran it all week with Savannah (Reier)."
Bluffton (4-2) wasn't done, however, as quarterback Alex Davis drove the Bobcats down to the Hilton Head High 35 with just over a minute to play. But his final pass of the night, intended for Jack Aerni in the end zone, was picked off by Seahawks cornerback Jon Baty at the 2. Hilton Head High then drew Bluffton offsides on 4th and 1 to seal the victory, as the school's student section immediately rushed the field.
"We were just trying to seal the game and beat Bluffton for the first time in about eight years," Baty said. "It just feels great."
It has actually only been four years, but it certainly could have seemed like eight to the Seahawks faithful. Bluffton had dominated the series in recent history, winning five straight, and appeared on its way to another one early on this time.
The Bobcats built an 18-0 lead, as Gerald Roberson netted a 39-yard rushing touchdown and Aerni hauled in a 55-yard score, to quiet the home crowd. But a first and goal at the Seahawks' 2 late in the first half set the stage for Hilton Head High's comeback, as Bluffton failed to score following a botched fake field goal attempt.
"You just can't turn the ball over and you can't miss an opportunity at the 2-yard line," Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said. "You've got to punch it in."
The Seahawks scored the next 25 points, including a pair of scores that came after Bluffton failed to corral a couple of pooch kickoffs. The Bobcats eventually reclaimed a 32-25 advantage late in the fourth before surrendering the last two scores.
"They played hard," Cribb said. "They had a good game plan and they didn't quit. It kind of reminded me of us."
Tailback Khalil Lewis led the way for the Seahawks with 171 yards on 32 carries, while Aaron Frazier caught five passes for 98 yards. His 44-yard reception down the far sideline set up one Seahawks score while his 32-yard catch in double coverage put Hilton Head High in position for the final touchdown of the night.
"We never give up, no matter what," Ford said. "These group of guys, I wouldn't rather play on any other team in the world. I love these guys, they're my brothers."
They're also 5-0. And Bridge Bowl champions.
Hilton Head High 33, Bluffton 32
Bluffton High 0 18 0 14 -- 32
Hilton Head High 0 6 19 8 -- 33
BLF--Ken Mayo 30 kick, 11:06.
BLF--Gerald Roberson 39 rush (Jawara Middleton rush), 6:36.
BLF--Jack Aerni 55 catch from Alex Davis (Mayo kick), 4:44.
HHH--Ja'Carri Aiken 8 catch from Ben Oliff (kick failed), 0:25.
HHH--Khalil Lewis 25 rush (Savannah Reier kick), 10:56.
HHH--Poona Ford 1 rush (kick failed), 8:59.
HHH--Ford 1 rush (kick failed), 8:23.
BLF--Laquan Washington 8 rush (Mayo kick), 11:19.
BLF--Jack Aerni 22 catch from Davis (Mayo kick), 8:12.
HHH--Ford 3 rush (Thomas Farrell rush), 3:17.
First Downs 17 24
Rushes-Yards 45-247 52-226
Comp-Att-Int 9-20-1 11-22-0
Passing Yards 150 153
Punts-Avg 2-29 5-35
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 9-85 6-41
Third-Down Conv 7-14 4-14
Fourth-Down Conv 2-3 2-4
PASSING: BLF -- Alex Davis 9-20-1-150; HHH -- Ben Oliff 11-22-0-153.
RUSHING: BLF -- Jawara Middleton 12-99, Gerald Roberson 6-47, B.J. Hill 10-49, Laquan Washington 2-26, Alex Davis 12-17, Terrance Heyward 3-9; HHH -- Khalil Lewis 32-171, Poona Ford 12-51, Ben Oliff 7-3, James Wiggins 1-1.
RECEIVING: BLF --Jack Aerni 5-98, B.J. Hil 1-22, Gerald Roberson 1-16, Laquan Washington 2-14; HHH -- Aaron Frazier 5-98, Ja'Carri Aiken 5-49, Poona Ford 1-6.