The Beaufort High School football team had enjoyed the road for four weeks.
The routine. The bus rides. The victories.
The Eagles knew what awaited them back home and were excited for the challenge.
But Goose Creek, which has not lost to a South Carolina school since 2010, used its option run game to strike quickly and closed out the Eagles for a 48-7 victory.
"Beaufort's always a physical team," Goose Creek running back Caleb Kinlaw said. "We knew they were coming in to knock us off."
Beaufort High (5-1) shifts its focus to Bluffton High School and the Region 8-AAAA opener. The Bobcats were in the Beaufort High stands Friday during their off week.
Goose Creek rushers broke free early, with Kinlaw taking a third-down draw 54 yards for a score, and Tyrik Johnson racing to a 53-yard touchdown on a pitch.
Out to prove its fast start wasn't a product of the schedule, the Eagles had their chances to hang with Goose Creek, the 2011 Class 4-A Division II champions whose 2012 season ended with a messy disqualification from the Class 4-A playoffs for using an ineligible player.
But the Eagles dropped two possible touchdown passes during the first half and couldn't carry over momentum from a 76-yard scoring drive to end the second quarter.
"That game could have easily been 28-21, because we were playing better than they were," Beaufort High coach Mark Clifford said. "We were doing everything we planned on doing and just made some mistakes ... We just had a horrible third quarter."
Goose Creek (6-0) used a short field for two quick scores to start the second half, and the Gators' defense allowed only three first downs during the final two quarters.
A big Goose Creek defensive front and execution issues contributed to the Eagles' slow start to the second half. They started first-and-15 three of four drives to open the third quarter after penalties.
"We kind of fell flat after our first penalty of the second half," Eagles center Andrew Smyth said. "That obviously killed the mood. But we're going to look past this and look straight into Bluffton for region."
Kinlaw said the Gators worked during the week to pick up the Eagles' blitzes. Goose Creek produced 474 yards of offense, to 164 for Beaufort High.
The Gators, from Region 7, have now defeated five teams from Region 8.
"There's always something to prove with us," Kinlaw said. "The first year we went (to the state championship), some people called it a fluke and said we wouldn't do it again."
"Our goal this year is just to get back."
Goose Creek 48, Beaufort High 7
Goose Creek 14 7 20 7 -- 48
Beaufort High 0 7 0 0 -- 7
GC -- Caleb Kinlaw 54 run (Alex Jacobus kick) 7:59
GC -- Tyrik Johnson 53 run (Jacobus kick) 4:45
GC -- Jordan Barnes 25 pass from Dantez Bennamon (Jacobus kick) 1:31
B -- Stephen Baggett 16 pass from Ben Vaigneur (Brady Cormier kick) :06
GC -- Darin McNeal 12 run (Jacobus kick) 9:21
GC -- Johnson 2 run (kick failed) 6:57
GC -- Johnson 15 run (Jacobus kick) 1:33
GC -- Jordan McElvene 18 pass from Dominique Jefferson (Jacobus kick) 3:24
First Downs 21 9
Rushes-Yards 48-339 29-81
Comp-Att-Int 9-18-0 7-21-1
Passing Yards 135 83
Punts-Avg 2-18.5 7-40.1
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 3-1
Penalties-Yards 4-30 3-35
Third-Down Conv 4-8 1-10
Fourth-Down Conv 3-4 0-2
PASSING: Goose Creek -- Dantez Bennamon 7-16-109, Dominique Jefferson 2-2-26; Beaufort High -- Ben Vaigneur 7-21-83-1.
RUSHING: Goose Creek -- Evan McField 19-126, Tyrik Johnson 5-79, Caleb Kinlaw 6-60, Bennamon 4-22, Darin McNeal 7-19, Jefferson 2-17, Evan Ullery 5-16; Beaufort High -- Jeffrey Tookes 12-32, Eric Blakely 6-31, Johnson 6-20, Vaigneur 4-3, Stephen Baggett 1- (-5).
RECEIVING: Goose Creek -- Jordan Barnes 6-87, Deondre Daniels 1-22, Jordan McElvene 1-18, Dijon Profit 1-8; Beaufort High -- Keaton Butler 3-23, Jawon Mack 2-27, Baggett 2-33.