The Bluffton Bobcats hit Swansea with everything they had Friday night — including the sprinklers.
Undefeated Bluffton began the Class 3A playoffs about as well as it could have hoped, overpowering Swansea right from the opening kickoff in rolling to a 56-6 victory in Friday night’s opening round at Bluffton High.
Cam Bent took the initial kick directly up the middle of the field and bounced it outside for a clean 88-yard touchdown return to set the tone for the Bobcats (11-0), which earned another home matchup next week against Lake City.
Bent scored again on a 15-yard pass from Jermaine Patterson just four minutes later, and Tyrese Sandgren hauled in another touchdown pass from Patterson three minutes after that. Patterson scored on an 8-yard run of his own to cap off the first-quarter scoring.
“They came out of the gate playing hard,” Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said. “I’m proud of that. We stepped on the gas early. That’s something we didn’t do last week.”
Swansea (3-8) was able to get on the board early in the second quarter, as Kendell Brooks took a screen pass 55 yards for a score, but that was the only noise the Tigers made on the night.
Patterson weaved effortlessly through the Swansea defense 38 yards for a touchdown shortly after that, putting the Bobcats ahead 35-6.
I’kiem Jefferson added a short touchdown run and Patterson hit Ashby Cribb with another scoring pass to close out the first half with Bluffton ahead 49-6.
Patterson finished the first half — and the game — with 190 passing yards and three touchdowns, and another 84 rushing yards and two more scores. Sandgren had six receptions for 97 yards.
The Bobcats turned the game over to their backups after halftime. Hunter Eldridge found Lee Kirkland with a short touchdown pass early in the third quarter for what turned out to be the game’s final score.
Josh Staple had 51 rushing yards in mop-up duty for Bluffton, and Cory McKie had an interception to keep Swansea out of the end zone in the second half.
Swansea was held to 216 yards of offense and committed four turnovers — two on fumbled kickoff returns. Adding to the visitors' misery, three sprinkler heads along the Swansea sideline activated with about four minutes remaining, dousing the Tigers and other bystanders.
Bluffton’s players were the ones who could have hit the showers early. Many of the team’s starters sat out the second half, so they should be well-rested for Lake City.
The Panthers (9-2) took down Bishop England 37-13 in its first-rounder.
“We’ve just got to get to work on Monday,” Cribb said. “We’ve got to watch a lot of film on Lake City and get ourselves prepared, get our minds right.”
Cribb already has a certain amount of familiarity with Lake City, which finished second in Region 6-3A behind perennial power Dillon.
“I’m from that area, so I kind of know them,” he said. “I know the coach real well. They’re throwing a little more than normal.”