High School Sports

Miraculous finish lifts Bluffton into Lower State final

C.J. Frazier doesn't know the rhyme or reason for it. And he doesn't particularly care -- he simply called it meant to be.

It's beginning to look that way.

Whatever the reason, the miracles keep on coming for Bluffton High School, and the dream ride will last at least one more week.

Frazier found Eric Boyles for a 30-yard touchdown with 12 seconds remaining to lift the Bobcats to an improbable 40-35 win Friday night at Hartsville in the third round of the Class 3-A playoffs.

The Bobcats advance to the Class 3-A Lower State championship game, where they will host Myrtle Beach on Friday night at Bobcat Stadium. Myrtle Beach defeated Bluffton's region foe Berkeley, 42-28, on Friday.

"Somebody wants us in the state championship," Frazier said in a telephone interview after the win. "This season doesn't want to end."

Just when it seemed over, Bluffton provided one last response that will long be remembered.

Hartsville took a 35-33 lead with less than a minute to play on a touchdown that looked as if it might be the dagger that would end the best season in Bluffton school history.

It took just three plays, however, for Bluffton (12-1) to keep its magical season alive. After being called for a penalty on the opening play of the final drive to negate a long pass play, Frazier found Marquis Webber on a deep pass route to move the ball into the Red Foxes' territory.

One play later, Frazier dumped the ball off to Boyles, who outran the Hartsville defense and found the end zone for his 20th touchdown of the year.

"When they took the lead, our kids didn't even blink," Bobcats coach Ken Cribb said by phone. "They didn't hesitate. They took the ball down field and boom -- it was over."

The come-from-behind win ended there, but it started early in the second half.

Hartsville (9-4) led 21-13 after the first quarter and carried the same lead into halftime. Frazier hooked up with Corey Stoner to open the third quarter. C.J. Johnson added two touchdowns later in the quarter to give Bluffton a 33-28 advantage heading into the fourth.

The Bobcats had the chance to ice the game late in the fourth, but they were called for a holding penalty on a touchdown run and missed a field goal two plays later.

Boyles' touchdown made the miss irrelevant while also giving Bluffton its third straight playoff victory by one score or less. Most importantly, it puts the Bobcats -- a team that had never enjoyed a winning season prior to this year -- one game away from playing for a state championship.

"I can't begin to tell you how crazy it was," Cribb said. "I told the boys, they need to be faithful to the Lord because we've got the big Bobcat on our team."