MONCKS CORNER -- It took a few minutes to get it going, but once the Bluffton Bobcats got rolling, there was no stopping them.
Bluffton fell behind Berkeley, 7-0, but proceeded to score 53 unanswered points to improve to 9-0 with a 53-7 win, claiming the Region 7-AAA title in the process.
Bluffton junior quarterback C.J. Frazier completed 16 of 27 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns, and senior receiver Dimitri Lowry caught 10 passes for 116 yards and two scores to pace an offensive attack that tallied nearly 400 yards.
"I thought we were a little tight, a little tense early on. I know I was," said Bluffton coach Ken Cribb. "We settled down some in the second quarter, got going a little bit. Our defense was great all night. We started the season pretty young on defense, but that group has worked so hard. They take a lot of pride in what they do, and they were good tonight."
Bluffton's defense smothered Berkeley all night, allowing only one first down and less than 75 total yards. Berkeley's lone first down came on a fake punt in the first quarter, while the lone touchdown came via a fake field goal. Bluffton's Anthony Smith intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, while linebacker Michael Grant had an interception, nine tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and recovered one. The Bobcats made four interceptions and recovered three fumbles on the night.
"We had made some progress offensively over the last few weeks, but we took some steps backwards tonight," said Berkeley coach Jeff Cruce. "Their defense was good, but we just didn't play well. You could tell it was seniors against sophomores."
Kicker Nick Hill gave Berkeley a 7-0 lead by taking off on a fake field goal and scoring on an 8-yard run with 7:37 to play in the first quarter.
Bluffton's Eric Boyles tied the game with a 1-yard run with 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
A 5-yard pass from Frazier to Marquis Webber with 7:32 remaining in the first half made it 14-7, and Mallie Sprouse kicked a 31-yard field goal with 2:39 to play to make it 17-7.
Smith's second interception and return of 50 yards set the Bobcats up at the Berkeley 30, and Frazier hit Lowery from 9 yards out with 54 seconds to play for a 24-7 halftime lead.
Zach Scott and K.J. Ford added rushing touchdowns in the second half for the Bobcats.
Bluffton, ranked No. 1 in the state's Class 3-A polls, will play Hilton Head High on Friday, seeking to record the school's first undefeated regular season.
"We have a target on our back now, so we have to be ready to play every week," said Cribb. "We have to get better at everything we do."