Zachariah Doe piled up 224 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, and James Bartholomew had two special teams scores Friday night to lead Hilton Head Christian Academy to a 26-21 victory over visiting John Paul II in their season opener.
On a steamy night, the Eagles outlasted a John Paul II team that was playing its first game ever in 11-man football. Rashad Battiste did everything he could for the Golden Warriors, running the ball 17 times for 239 yards and a pair of scores, but JP2 eventually ran out of gas.
“John Paul had a good game plan,” HHCA coach Matt Smith said. “They played extremely hard, and obviously we’re just happy to come out with a win first game of the year.”
Coach Kevin Wald’s team led 21-14 at halftime, sparked by a pair of 50-yard touchdown runs from Battiste, but the lack of depth on John Paul II’s bench proved costly on a hot August night. Eight times in the second half, play was halted as trainers could attend to players down on the field with leg cramps.
Battiste himself was slowed by cramps throughout the second half, eventually leaving the game for good at the start of John Paul II’s final series with about two minutes remaining. The powerful sophomore running back needed help getting to his feet and received a round of applause from an appreciative group of fans on the visitors’ sideline as he hobbled off the field.
The Eagles had their share of leg cramps, too, but they weren’t too severe to keep them from victory.
“You try to condition so that you’ve got a little bit left in the fourth quarter,” Smith said. “It was hot, everybody was cramping. My guys gutted it up when they needed to.”
The majority of Battiste’s rushing yards came on three carries – the two 50-yard touchdowns in the first half and a 58-yard romp at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Other than that, the Hilton Head Christian defense largely controlled the contest.
The Eagles recovered five fumbles – four in the second half – and forced John Paul II into 13 negative-yardage plays. A couple of those stemmed from snapping mistakes, a problem both teams dealt with, but mostly the lost yardage happened because the Eagles were consistently getting into the Golden Warriors’ backfield.
HHCA junior Chandler Edmonds was particularly disruptive, and his strip-sack of JP2 quarterback Nyleem Wright with just over a minute to play capped the win for the Eagles.
“I think we showed a lot of perseverance – the fact that we were down most of the game and were able to just keep enduring,” Smith said.
Karl Johnson opened the scoring in the second quarter for the Golden Warriors, intercepting a pass and going 94 yards untouched for a touchdown. But HHCA’s Bartholomew promptly answered with an 88-yard kickoff return for a score, tying the game 7-7.
Bartholomew’s second touchdown came on a 55-yard punt return in the third quarter that cut John Paul II’s lead to 21-20.
As the Eagles’ defense continued to hold firm in the second half, Doe put them up for good in the fourth quarter. He capped a 5-play, 70-yard scoring drive with a 15-yard run to give the home team the lead for the first time. The sophomore finished with 26 carries on the night.
- Hanahan 47, May River 13
- Hilton Head Christian 26, John Paul II 21
- Ridgeland-Hardeeville 35, Thomas Heyward 6
- Beaufort 26, Wando 17
- St. John’s Christian 48, Beaufort Academy 26
- Swansea 46, Battery Creek 27
- Orangeburg Prep 28, Hilton Head Prep 14