From what the crowd could see Friday night, it was a heck of a football game between Hanahan and Hilton Head Island High School. Played inside a cloud, the regular-season finale at Hilton Head High turned out to be even crazier than the weather.
When the players emerged from the fog, the Region 8-AAA champions were the Hanahan Hawks’, as the visitors spoiled the Seahawks’ unbeaten season in taking a 49-45 win.
Hanahan (8-2) wrapped up the region title with a perfect 5-0 record in league play. Hilton Head High (10-1) went 4-1 in the region. Both teams will host first-round games Friday in the Class 3-A playoffs.
Nonetheless, it was a painful ending to the regular season for Hilton Head High, which held a 45-34 lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play and eventually finished 10 yards short of the win. The Seahawks didn’t trail in the game until 18 seconds left in the third quarter.
That third quarter was a major turning point in the contest. Hanahan opened the second half with a 65-yard touchdown run from Samuel Denmark on the first play from scrimmage. Sean Brady added a pair of field goals in the quarter, and Victor Colbert threw the first of his two touchdown passes, a 15-yarder to beefy senior Dominque Green.
It appeared the Seahawks had stemmed the tide early in the fourth quarter, as Aiden Hegarty found Jestin Morrow on a perfectly executed play-action pass, scoring from 32 yards out to give the Seahawks a 38-34 lead with 9:20 to go. Momentum had clearly shifted back to Hilton Head after a strong defensive stand set the stage for a four-play, 57-yard scoring drive, capped off by Hegarty’s 8-yard touchdown run with 5:35 remaining.
But Hanahan refused to roll over. The Hawks got a long return on the ensuing kickoff, and scored on the very next play, a 24-yard run by Cyrone White, to cut Hilton Head’s lead to three points. They then caught the Seahawks off-guard, as Brady recovered his own onside kick. However, Hilton Head made another defensive stand, stopping the Hawks on fourth down at the Seahawks’ 31.
Hanahan returned the favor, stopping the Seahawks with just over two minutes remaining. A 50-yard punt by Hegarty pinned Hanahan all the way back at its own 20. But the field position wouldn’t matter, as Denmark took a short pass from Colbert on the very next play and swerved through traffic across the field and back again for an 80-yard touchdown. The Hawks led 49-45 with 1:40 to play.
A nice kick return by Morrow gave the Seahawks good field position to work with on the final possession, as they started out on Hanahan’s 45-yard line. Back-to-back holding penalties pushed Hilton Head back onto its own side of the field, but Hegarty ran for 21 yards and then hit Trey Days with a 16-yard completion to put the ball at the Hawks’ 18-yard line with less than 30 seconds left.
Three straight incompletions set up a 4th-and-10 play with 16 seconds left. B.J. Payne called timeout to discuss the crucial play with his team, and it was worth it, as Hegarty found Tyler Hamilton over the middle for a 14-yard completion to put the ball at the 4-yard line. Hegarty then spiked the ball to stop the clock with seven seconds left.
Hanahan consistently got pressure on Hegarty throughout the game, tackling him behind the line of scrimmage seven times and sending him scrambling out of the pocket on many other passing plays. The final play was no exception.
The pocket immediately collapsed as Hegarty took the shotgun snap. While he tried to elude a Hanahan lineman, Hegarty slipped on the damp turf and his knee barely touched the ground. There wasn’t enough time left to regroup for another play, and the clock ran out on the Seahawks’ unbeaten run.
Hegarty had a monster of a game, despite the final-play heartbreak, as he was 23 of 43 passing for 429 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Bryce Singleton was his favorite target, catching 10 passes for 173 yards and two scores. Morrow also had a big game receiving, making five catches for 141 yards.
Colbert also aired it out for the Hawks, completing 16 of 28 passes for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Denmark had five catches for 123 yards and also rushed for 69 yards. Vontre Howard had 12 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns for Hanahan.
Hanahan 49, Hilton Head Island High 45
Hanahan 0 14 20 15 — 49
HHH 10 14 7 14 — 45
HHH— Bryce Singleton 38 pass from Aiden Hegarty (Jonathan Orr kick), 7:22
HHH— Orr 26 field goal, 2:37
Han— Vontre Howard 10 run (Sean Brady kick), 8:03
HHH— Jeremiah Maddox 14 pass from Singleton (Orr kick), 5:21
HHH— Singleton 15 pass from Hegarty (Orr kick), 1:08
Han— Howard 12 run (Brady kick), 0:10
Han— Samuel Denmark 65 run (Brady kick), 11:47
Han— Brady 41 field goal, 9:41
HHH— Tyler Hamilton 1 run (Orr kick), 6:48
Han— Brady 33 field goal, 1:32
Han— Dominique Green 15 pass from Victor Colbert (Brady kick), 0:18
HHH— Jestin Morrow 32 pass from Hegarty (Orr kick), 9:20
HHH— Hegarty 8 run (Orr kick), 5:35
Han— Cyrone White 24 run (Denmark pass from Colbert), 5:15
Han— Denmark 80 pass from Colbert (Brady kick), 1:40