High School Sports

HHCA stops Thomas Sumter in rematch of last year's title game

In its pregame chapel session, the Hilton Head Christian Academy football team read a passage from the book of Philippians, one that focused on forgetting what has past and pressing forward.

Perhaps that was easier said than done for some of the Eagles with defending SCISAA Class 2-A champion Thomas Sumter Academy visiting Friday for a rematch of last year's title game.

"We've been waiting 300 days for this game," senior receiver Alex Martin said. "It was 300 days ago we lost to them in the state championship. We've been counting."

The Eagles don't have to wait any longer for revenge. Martin broke up a pass in the end zone to thwart a two-point conversion attempt and preserve Hilton Head Christian's 21-20 victory.

Hilton Head Christian (2-1) took the lead on Brad Meccariello's 5-yard touchdown run with 7:42 left, and the Eagles made two fourth-down stops to seemingly lock up the win.

But Thomas Sumter (2-3) had enough left for one drive, which ended with Kris Payne's leaping 20-yard touchdown catch over Martin with 41 seconds left.

Quarterback Shane Bishop looked Martin's way again on the two-point conversion, but the pass was high, and Martin and receiver Dalton Shipman made contact as each leapt for the ball.

"If it was the state championship, we probably would've kicked the extra point," Thomas Sumter coach Troy Kessinger said. "We wanted to go ahead and get on out of here and go home with a win or whatever."

The Generals outgained the Eagles 389 yards to 294, but Hilton Head Christian took advantage of three turnovers. Both their first-half touchdowns -- passes of 13 and 26 yards from Caleb Lewis to Martin -- came after Thomas Sumter fumbles.

After the game, the teams gathered at midfield in prayer, where Eagles coach Tommy Lewis was complimentary of the Generals and brought up the possibility of yet another rematch -- in this year's state title game.

"I think this game proves to all the non-believers that we definitely can hang," Caleb Lewis said. "We beat the team that everyone was picking, so there's not any real evidence against us now, I guess."