Playing its most significant game of the season against the strongest opponent it has seen all year, the Beaufort Academy football team got the fireworks it expected from sensational tailback Reyn Robinson.
Surprisingly, however, it was the Eagles' maligned defense that would carry them to an improbable 30-20 upset of previously undefeated James Island Christian in front of a boisterous home crowd on Friday night.
Beaufort Academy got four touchdowns from junior tailback Robinson, all from 25 yards or more, and pitched a fourth-quarter shutout to shock a Lions team that had outscored its opponents by 235 points through the first seven games of the season.
As a result, the Eagles improved to 5-1 in SCISAA 8-Man Region 2 and will host rival Patrick Henry in the season finale next week with the region title on the line.
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"To see this program make the strides it has and to be in a position to play for a region title just means more than I can say," said Robinson. "I'm so happy that this is the season we have the chance to get (a region title). I'm speechless, honestly."
Robinson did all the talking he needed on the field. Despite being a marked man by the James Island Christian defense, the junior rushed for 286 yards on 30 carries and all four Eagles scores to provide all the punch the upset effort needed.
His third score of the game -- a 29-yard touchdown reception from Clay Melville early in the third quarter -- pushed a two-point halftime advantage to 22-14 and proved to be the winning score in a game Beaufort Academy (6-3, 5-1) would never trail.
"What else can I say about Reyn," said Brock Vaigneur, who is in his first year as head coach at Beaufort Academy. "He just keeps making people miss and is very difficult to get on the ground."
After the Lions responded with a 29-yard touchdown run by Corley Marlow to tighten the game at 22-20 midway through the third quarter, Robinson again delivered on the ground -- this time from 35 yards out -- to push the lead to 10 after a successful two-point conversion.
From there, the Eagles turned to their defense to hold the fort and shut down a Lions offense that hadn't scored less than 28 points all season. Beaufort Academy pitched the fourth-quarter shutout with constant pressure on dangerous quarterback Josh Black, with much of that pressure coming from lineman Michael Webb.
Despite making his first start on defense this season, the sophomore recorded a pair of huge sacks that thwarted a pair of Lions drives with the game still very much in doubt.
"Michael hasn't played a lick of defense all year but I put him in there because he's looked so good in practice," Vaigneur said. "To me, he was the player of the game. He stepped up and made some big plays, just like some other kids did on defense. All around, it was our best effort of the season."
It wasn't totally unexpected, however. Vaigneur said he watched plenty of tape on the Lions' potent offense last weekend and had his game plan ready to go to when the kids got back to work preparing for James Island Christian's attack earlier this week.
"We put together a solid game plan and then worked on defense every day in practice," Vaigneur said. "Sometimes we only work on it a couple times in a week, but we made it the focus of practice this week and it paid off. Everyone worked really hard this week."
The Eagles got an early lift on the game's opening play, when Black fumbled the opening kickoff near midfield. Five plays later, Robinson made the Lions pay with a 25-yard touchdown run and added the two-point conversion to give Beaufort Academy an 8-0 lead.
The Lions answered immediately behind Black, who made up for his fumble by taking the second kickoff back 75 yards to the house and added a two-point conversion of his own to knot the game at eight.
Robinson countered with his longest run of the night -- 79 yards -- to put the Eagles back up 16-8. James Island Christian captured the only second quarter score on a 5-yard pass from Black to Jonathan Hickman to send the game into the half at 16-14 after the conversion failed.
Beaufort Academy 30, James Island Christian 20
BA--16 0 14 0--30
JI--8 6 6 0--20
BA--Reyn Robinson 25-run (Robinson run)
JI--Josh Black 75 kick return (Black run)
BA--Robinson 79 run (Christopher Boggs run)
JI--Jonathan Hickman 5 pass from Black (run failed)
BA--Robinson 29 pass from Clay Melville (run failed)
JI--Corley Marlow 29 run (run failed)
BA--Robinson 35 run (Melville run)