Thomas Heyward at HH Prep football
What seemed like a horrible play at the time may have saved the game Friday night at home for Hilton Head Prep.
Leading Thomas Heyward Academy 7-0 in the final minutes of the third quarter, Hilton Head Prep lined running back Gavin Hurlbut alone in the backfield with the ball inside its own 10.
The snap sailed well over Hurlbut's head, and he turned and gave chase, scooping up the ball in the end zone and running for his life more than half the width of the field before diving out of the end zone just far enough for the Dolphins (4-3) to keep possession inside their own 1.
That play averted a safety, which would have gotten the Rebels on the board and could have changed the momentum of the game.
Instead, the Dolphins kept the shutout intact and went on to win 14-0.
"I saw the ball go over my head. They were coming ...," Hurlbut said. "That was definitely going to be a big momentum swing if they get the score and get the ball back with good field position. Who knows what happens. That was definitely a crucial point in the game."
Defense was the story for the Dolphins. Though Anthony Sanders eclipsed 100 yards rushing, Hilton Head Prep held the Thomas Heyward offense in check, allowing the Rebels (4-3) to move the ball between the 20s but clamping down on any scoring chances inside the red zone.
"I think it was a matter of attitude and effort today," Dolphins head coach Kevin Wald said. "We wanted it."
The Dolphins got on the board early with a 38-yard scoring strike from Tyler Fox to Mac Orie early in the first quarter.
That touchdown would have been enough.
Orie has become Prep's biggest playmaker as of late.
"He had a good game," Wald said. "We're trying to get it to him a little more."
The Rebels' best chance to score came in the third quarter.
Collin Roach picked off a Fox pass at the 25 and returned it 75 yards for a score, but a block in the back at the Prep 25 brought it back.
On fourth down, an interception of Logan Thomas by Josh Polk at the 5 seemingly ended the Rebels' threat.
Polk took the pick 95 yards to the house, but this time a Prep penalty brought the ball back to the 10. The Dolphins then fumbled the ball right back to Bret Mixson on the first play.
But Thomas Heyward could do nothing, turning the ball over on downs.
The Rebels were never a threat in the fourth quarter, and Hurlbut added an exclamation point with a 5-yard touchdown run late after Thomas Heyward had turned the ball over on downs deep in their own territory.
Trammy Colket blocked a punt for the Dolphins in the third quarter, while Orie had a fourth-quarter interception.
Mixson had an interception for the Rebels.
"This was like a 15-round heavyweight fight," Wald said. "Every time they would go for the knockout, we'd stop them. Every time we would go for the knockout, they'd stop us. That's what good teams do."
HILTON HEAD PREP 14, THOMAS HEYWARD ACADEMY 0
THA 0 0 0 0 -- 0
HHP 7 0 0 7 -- 14
HHP: Mac Orie 38 pass from Tyler Fox (Waddy Brooks kick)
HHP: Gavin Hurlbut 5 run (Brooks lick), :28.1