Beaufort Today -

Beaufort wins battle up front, defeats rival Bluffton

  • Sue Jarrett/For Beaufort Today - Kyleik Middleton evades the Bluffton defense on his way to the end zone.
  • Sue Jarrett/For Beaufort Today - Cornerback Reggie Jones Jr. returns an errant screen pass for a pick-six.
  • Sue Jarrett/For Beaufort Today - Bluffton receiver Jermaine Patterson is carted off the field after suffering an apparent neck injury.

For the first time since 2013, Beaufort High defeated its rival Bluffton, doing so by a score of 41-21 at home Friday.

The game didn’t start until 9:20 p.m. due to lightning in the area, but when Beaufort seniors left the field after midnight, they did so with a satisfied and unfamiliar taste in their mouths.

“It’s the first time our seniors have ever beaten Bluffton,” coach Mark Clifford said. “They lost their ninth grade year to them. They lost the past two seasons to them. Bluffton has got a great program. Everyone knows that and that’s why it feels good to beat them.”

Beaufort (3-0) had the game well in control for much of the second half after jumping out to a 35-13 lead over the Bobcats (1-2) with 7:15 left in the third quarter.

A scary moment occurred at the 5:40 mark of the third quarter with Beaufort leading by 22. Bluffton wideout Jermaine Patterson caught a pass over the middle and streaked down the left sideline. He was brought down 50 yards later by his facemask from behind. Beaufort defensive back Kagel Coke, in what appeared to be an effort to grab Patterson’s jersey, ripped the receiver’s helmet off, causing Patterson’s head to thrash to the side.

Patterson was lying motionless for a few minutes at the Beaufort three-yard line. He began moving his limbs as the trainers examined him and was carried off on a stretcher roughly 20 minutes later for precautionary reasons.

Bluffton coach John Houpt, who was with Patterson for most of the time he was on the ground, said after the game, “He was feeling pretty good I think when I was over there. His neck was a little sore and his eye was cut a bit but I think he’s going to be okay in the long run.”

Patterson, also a basketball star at Bluffton, was the player of the game for the Bobcats both before the injury and by game’s end, catching 10 balls for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Patterson’s condition will be updated.

Running back Kyleik Middleton was the offensive hero credited with bringing the Broad River Bowl trophy back to Beaufort. The senior racked up 270 yards on 24 carries, also scoring twice and accounting for the majority of the Eagle’s 361 total yards.

Middleton benefited from what was a dominating effort by a senior-laden Beaufort offensive line. In addition to contributing to the rushing numbers, Beaufort did not allow quarterback Jeffrey Smyth to be sacked.

Smyth only completed four out of 14 passes for 47 yards but Middleton was so effective that Clifford didn’t need a strong effort from the aerial attack.

Another reason for the lack of demand for a Beaufort passing attack was the Eagles’ stifling defense, particularly in the trenches.

Bluffton rushed just 16 times for 46 yards, rendering the Bobcat attack one-dimensional, which led to turnovers.

“I thought we threw the ball well but ran the wrong routes several times which caused interceptions but we’re young at receiver,” Houpt said. “Hats off to Beaufort. They did a great job.”

Smyth made more of an impact on the defensive side of the ball, recording two interceptions off Bluffton quarterback Hunter Eldridge. Junior Brendan Bowersox also recorded a pick and senior Reggie Jones Jr. took an Eldridge pass 20-yards the other way for a score.

The turning point of the game occurred as Bluffton was trying to ice the half, trailing just 14-13 with 11 seconds left. Eldridge dropped back, found nothing and tried to go down, but he was stripped after being gang tackled. Beaufort defender Brandon Smalls took the fumble 20 yards for a touchdown with just four seconds left before half time.

All in all, it was a dominant effort up front by Beaufort, who controlled the game from there.

“Purely, we knew that they were going to be a big team where if we got close enough, they were just going to hold on to us and we weren’t going to be able to win the matchup,” Beaufort junior lineman Chase Guynup said. “So mainly the thing was keeping them in front of us and using our hands to get around them.”

Beaufort recorded four sacks and Guynup had one and-a-half.

Up next for the Eagles is a trip to Whale Branch Friday. Bluffton will host New Hampstead (Savannah).