Patriots take aim on Eagles

  • Friday, November 1, 2013

Roger Lee/Journal Scene Patriot defenders Michael Brown, Jerod Lacy and Ryan Chaya trap Bluffton ball carrier Gerald Roberson.

The Patriots face a tough team on the road this week.

Fort Dorchester (6-3, 2-1 in Region 8-AAAA) travels to face Beaufort (6-3, 1-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Eagles are hungry for a region win and always play well at home.

Beaufort has moved the ball the past two weeks but to no avail. The Eagles held Summerville to 17 points but, despite a productive rushing attack, never found the end zone. Last week Beaufort aired it out more at Ashley Ridge with good results, but allowed the Swamp Foxes to rally for a 25-21 victory.

“They looked like two different teams in those games,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “That scares me because I don’t know exactly what to prepare for. They have two or three guys who run the ball really well. That is something they have always had but that quarterback they have now can throw the ball and they have that big tight end. Outscoring them could be difficult.”

Beaufort senior Eric Blakely and sophomore Jeffrey Tokes are both dangerous rushers. If the Patriots can’t limit their production, they had better be prepared to score a lot of points.

Last week Blakely rushed 120 yards and three TDs on 16 carries. Tokes carried 22 times for 91 yards.

Beaufort QB Ben Vaigneur is a returning starter who threw for 838 yards and six touchdowns last year. He has a good target in tight end Stephen Baggett (6-5, 225) who has drawn a lot of college interest.

Baggett has a knack for getting open and once the ball is in his hands he is not easy to bring down.

Junior receiver Keaton Butler showed his capabilities last week by making some big receptions including a diving grab on the sidelines that set the Eagles up with a first down at the Ashley Ridge 13-yard line in the closing two minutes of play.

The Eagle defense has played well in spurts this season. In addition to a solid performance against Summerville, it held Wando to 14 points in Week 1 and then shutout Aiken and Groves High of Georgia.

However, Fort Dorchester seems to be hitting its stride. The Patriots scored 118 points in their last two games while holding their opponents, Colleton County and Bluffton, to 48. That would be even more one-sided if the Fort hadn’t given up 21 points on three plays last week.

A Bluffton receiver managed to get a step and a half on a Fort defensive back and turn the break into an 85-yard TD reception. Another Bluffton score came on a 97-yard kick off return and a third came on an 88-yard reverse.

Those plays aside, it was a solid night for the Patriot defense. Fort Dorchester had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries during the game.

Meanwhile there were multiple standouts for the Patriot offense. Running backs Matt Murray and Nahshon Cyrus combined for nearly 300 rushing yards. Fort QB Kobe passed for 212 yards and rushed for 92. Receiver Corey Rawlings had four receptions for more than 100 yards and two scores.

“We’ve been so young the past couple of years,” LaPrad said. “I think we are growing up a little bit. The kids are getting to where they can play well in big games and deal with the bad times to get to the good times. Bluffton is a good team, but we executed and played with a lot of effort. In fact, we have played with great effort all year.”

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