After the final horn sounded Friday, the Battery Creek High School football team trotted out the gate nearest its locker room and disappeared.
Dolphins coaches wanted to talk through the season-opener, but not out in the open, where the scoreboard was still lit up and Estill players were enjoying their victory. This one was sloppy, indicative of the first game of the season.
The Gators took advantage, coming back from a halftime deficit to win 34-21 at Dolphins Stadium. Estill forced seven Battery Creek turnovers, including six lost fumbles.
The Class 1-A Gators avenged a season-opening loss to Battery Creek from the previous season.
"I thought our defense did a great job in fighting back," Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said. "But we had those mental mistakes. And we had some blown coverage that gave them 14 direct points."
Shuman had not seen much of Estill's big running backs. Many of the Gators weren't on scrimmage film from the preseason and had not played the Dolphins in 2011, he said.
Gators back Shervas Brown was one. He missed Estill's loss to the Dolphins last season with a torn rotator cuff, watching from the sideline. He bruised his way to 62 yards on the ground Friday, including two touchdowns.
"I had to take over," Brown said. "In two years, I hadn't been able to play against them."
Estill coaches warned their players after the game to stay quiet until next Friday's kickoff with rival Wade Hampton. A coach motioned to Battery Creek's scoreboard.
"That speaks for itself," he said.
The Gators had prepared during the week for the Dolphins' split backs, option and quick pitch and were wary of Battery Creek's tight ends slipping free.
"They run behind 76 (senior offensive lineman Justin Frazier)," Estill's Jamal Early said. "He's the key."
Darrin Peeks led the Dolphins with 47 yards rushing and a touchdown. But the Dolphins' only scores after the first quarter came on home-run passes, not on the ground.
Shuman said his team works on ball protection each day in practice but would increase efforts next week. Fumbles stalled Battery Creek when Estill allowed the Dolphins to remain in the game.
"We had a lot of opportunities and left them on the field," Shuman said.
Battery Creek's sophomore quarterback, Raekwon Smalls, started and averaged almost 7 yards per carry. He also threw an 85-yard touchdown pass to tight end Isaiah Sloan. But with Battery Creek needing points late and Shuman concerned with protecting the ball, he went with junior Zach Mahan.
Mahan's touchdown pass to Yuneek Crittendon pulled his team within a touchdown with under 7 minutes remaining. But Estill iced it with a long touchdown pass and interception on the next Dolphins' drive.
Estill 34, Battery Creek 21
E-- Shervas Brown 1 run (run failed) 7:20
BC-- Darrin Peeks 5 run (Zach Mahan kick) 2:09
BC-- Isaiah Sloan 85 pass from Raekwon Smalls (Mahan kick) 4:34
E-- Erre Jenkins 5 run (run failed) :03
E-- Brown 1 run (Brown run) 8:18
E-- Isaac Williams 56 fumble return (Jeremiah Singleton run) 4:34
BC-- Yuneek Crittendon 37 pass from Zach Mahan (Carlos Negron kick) 6:45
E-- DeAngelo Bryant 43 pass from Alex Taylor (run failed) 3:24
Estill Battery Creek
First downs 15 11
Passing yards 95 143
Comp-Att-Int 3-6 5-10-1
Rushing 42-168 31-127
Penalties-yards 5-25 3-25
Fumbles-lost 6-6 4-4
Punts-avg 4-30.5 2-28
Rushing: Estill-- Shervas Brown 16-62, Erre Jenkins 8-57, Tynn Beckett 3-16, Bryant 4-9, Rashad McGraw 3-8, Chad Risher 1-6, Alex Taylor 2-2. Battery Creek-- Darrin Peeks 10-47, Smalls 6-42, Deandre Johnson 8-35, Caleb Harris 1-8, Zach Mahan 5-0, Jennette 1- (-5).
Passing: Estill-- Alex Taylor 3-6-95. Battery Creek-- Raekwon Smalls 3-5-103, Zach Mahan 2-5-40-1.
Receiving: Estill-- DeAngelo Bryant 1-43, Isaac Williams 1-35, Lorenzo Brown 1-17. Battery Creek-- Isiah Sloan 1-85, Yuneek Crittendon 1-37, Teyvon Jennette 3-21.