Hilton Head Christian coach Tommy Lewis knew the Eagles would get Hilton Head Prep's best shot on Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Trailing 7-6 early in the second quarter, the Eagles had taken the Dolphins' hardest punch, remained standing and hit back. As a result, Hilton Head Christian held the Dolphins scoreless the final three quarters and rolled to a 38-7 win to beat their SCISAA Region 2-AA rival and complete a perfect regular season.
"We're still looking for that perfect game," said Lewis as his team sprayed each other -- and coaches and fans -- with cans of Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer in a traditional Eagles celebration.. "But for the most part, we play hard, and our guys give good effort. Lethargic is not the right word. We look out of sync. It's just not being focused. We just need to put one together."
After a 10-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Charlie Wilmot to Zenon Parker gave the Dolphins the 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Eagles pushed back, gaining intensity on defense and dominating the middle of the field with the running game.
"We try to take what the defense gives us," Lewis said. "They were really loading up on the outside, so we tried to run it on the inside more and it really worked out for us."
Most of that work on the inside came from DeAngelo Clark, who had 15 carries for 140 yards and two second-quarter touchdowns runs.
Meccariello, who added a 9-yard scoring run, had 35 yards on five carries.
Late in the second quarter, the Eagles and went for it on fourth-and-goal from the Prep 5. Clark came up short and the ball went over to the Dolphins inside their 1.
Two Wilmot keepers later and incomplete pass, and the ball rested at the same spot, forcing Prep to punt from its own end zone.
After a 19-yard punt, it took Clark two carries to score with 46.3 seconds left in the half, completing a 20-point second quarter and effectively putting the game away.
Hilton Head Prep coach Kevin Wald said it seemed like the entire second quarter was played at the Dolphins' end of the field.
"We were playing decent defense, but you can only hold for so long, I don't care who you are," Wald said.
For the Eagles, Caleb Lewis completed 7 of 11 passes for 173 yards and two scores, including a 71-yard scoring strike to Jamario Williams in the third quarter.
Hilton Head Christian will host Calhoun Academy on Friday in the first round of the SCISAA Class 2-A playoffs.
For Hilton Head Prep (5-5, 0-4), it ends a tough season.
"With the numbers and everything, I thought our kids, once again, just like every other game this season, gave it all they had for four quarters," Wald said.
Hilton Head Christian 38, Hilton Head Prep 7
HHCA 6 20 6 6 -- 38
HHP 7 0 0 0 -- 7
HHCA -- Brandon Qualls 38 pass from Caleb Lewis (kick failed)
HHP -- Zenon Parker 10 pass from Charlie Wilmot (Logan Clark kick)
HHCA -- DeAngelo Clark 6 run (kick blocked)
HHCA -- Brad Meccariello 9 run (pass failed)
HHCA -- Clark 11 run (Meccariello run)
HHCA -- Jamario Williams 71 pass from Lewis (kick failed)
HHCA -- Alex Cooler 3 run (kick failed)