In a span of 17 seconds Friday, Hilton Head Christian Academy's 28-point lead over Northwood Academy was cut in half, and the Eagles' decision to run out the final minute of the first half after driving to the 20-yard line instead of trying to pad the margin suddenly didn't seem like a wise move.
But Eagles coach Tommy Lewis insists he wasn't sweating it. He knew his team would respond.
"We knew we just had to get re-focused and get it back in high gear, and you hope you haven't lost so much momentum that you can't do that," Lewis said. "I felt confident enough in our guys and in the way we played in the first half that I felt sure we could get this thing back, and the guys confirmed my feelings."
Indeed they did, putting together two impressive touchdown drives to start the fourth quarter to cap off a 41-21 victory and remain undefeated in SCISAA Region 2-AA play.
The Eagles scored on their first four drives while allowing only two first downs in Northwood's six first-half possessions to build a 28-0 halftime lead. They might have been able to add another score, but Lewis pulled back on the reins, electing to take a delay of game penalty and kneel down to run out the clock.
In a span of four plays late in the third quarter, the Chargers made that decision seem questionable. Freshman Darrett Drayton broke a 72-yard touchdown run to get Northwood on the board, and after JaBrook Tucker's fumble on the Eagles' next offensive play, Northwood quarterback Ty Powell hit Seth Graham for a 29-yard touchdown pass to cut it to 28-14.
But the Eagles (6-1, 3-0 SCISAA Region 2-AA) didn't let the tension mount for long.
Luke Sirgo hit Ryan Emery for a 58-yard pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, then Sirgo scrambled to the 1 and hooked up with Alex Martin for a 1-yard touchdown pass. After a defensive stop, backup quarterback Devan Fitzhugh capped a six-play, 50-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to bump the lead to 41-14.
"We were playing lazy. We came out and played well the first half, and then we got pretty lazy and just weren't playing well," said Emery, who caught a team-high five passes for 121 yards. "We came back out and made some plays. We knew what we had to do."
The Eagles felt they could exploit Northwood's secondary, and Sirgo proved that theory correct by completing 14 of 17 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Tucker also had success on the ground, running for 130 yards on 17 carries.
Drayton led the Chargers (4-4, 1-2 SCISAA Region 2-AA) with 134 yards on 13 carries, including a pair of touchdowns.