High School Football

Defense, onside kick help Hilton Head High win at James Island

Hilton Head Island 29, James Island 25

Quarterback Michael Julian had just scored on a 9-yard scamper to cut the James Island lead to two, 19-17, late in the third quarter, when Hilton Head Island coach B.J. Payne took a chance.

Payne called for an onside kick, the Seahawks (5-2, 2-0) recovered and went on to take the lead on another Julian touchdown early in the fourth quarter on their way to a 29-25 road win over James Island to stay perfect in Region 8-AAA play.

"We've run it four times this year and recovered all four times," Payne said. "We noticed their front line was playing about 14 yards off, instead of 10, and really bailing. I made the call and it worked out for us.

"It kept their defense on the field, and they were really tired. And it gave our defense a chance to breathe."

Julian's second score was from 19 yards and was part of a 23-carry, 131-yard performance. Khalil Lewis added 121 yards on 17 carries.

"Our inside run game and our outside zone read ... Mike (Julian) did a great job of reading it and giving and keeping," Payne said. "We stuttered a little throwing ball early, but our defense played tremendously in the first half, really played aggressively. We got after them.

"We relied on the defense in the first half, offense in the second half. It's obviously a huge win for us."

After Julian's second TD, the Seahawks tacked on a 24-yard field goal by Colin White, his second of the game, to make the lead eight. But James Island (3-4) brought the kickoff back 79 yards and scored two plays later. The Trojans went for two to tie the game but were stopped.

Hilton Head punted on the ensuing drive and Julian pinned the Trojans at the 3. Poona Ford stopped a sweep in the end zone for a safety with 10 seconds remaining.

"The defense was really on the job tonight," Payne said. "I was proud of them."

Scott D'Amico scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, and White hit a 37-yarder for the Seahawks' first-half scores.

Hilton Head High hosts Orangeburg-Wilkerson on Friday for homecoming.