HANAHAN -- James Island's Reggie Rosario kicked a game-winning 34-yard field goal with 6:46 remaining to lift the Trojans over Hanahan, 29-27, at Wiley Knight Stadium on Friday night.
The victory was an emotional one for James Island in its first regular-season contest since the recent death of 2014 graduate Tristen Allen, a former linebacker at the school.
Rosario, a close friend of Allen's, atoned for an earlier miss by splitting the uprights on the game-winner. James Island's defense delivered a critical goal line stand - it's second of the fourth quarter - with 2:33 remaining to help seal the win.
First-year JI head coach Ike Allred earned a Gatorade bath following the final kneel-down, as the Trojans won in their first outing back in the Class AAAA ranks.
"It's just a matter of our guys believing that we belong on the field with any team we play this year," Allred said. "That's the biggest thing because James Island needs something good for it to happen. It was great that we had some adversity tonight and were able to fight through it. They believed, and kept fighting."
Rosario's game-winner was set up by a 49-yard run by James Island junior running back Buss Hamilton, who was inserted at quarterback for the drive in place of injured starter Gage Moloney.
Hamilton finished the night with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Moloney, a sophomore, was effective in his first career start, completing 21 of 36 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown.
James Island took the opening kickoff and traveled 78 yards on 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Moloney connected with four different receivers on the drive, and three times hit senior wide out Chad Hardin, including an eight-yard touchdown strike in the corner of the end zone.
Hamilton scored his first touchdown of the night just moments later after an errant snap on a Hanahan punt attempt set James Island up with first-and-goal.
Hanahan rallied to within 26-21 by halftime behind senior quarterback Walt Fagan and junior tailback Vontre Howard. Fagan recorded two 29-yard completions on Hanahan's TD drive just before intermission, before finding senior Saaehim Brooks on a slant for a 10-yard score to complete the march.
Howard found the end zone for the second time of the night on the opening drive of the second half to move Hanahan ahead, 27-26. He scored from four yards out to finish a three-play drive that he set up with a 55-yard kickoff return.
Both defenses came up with timely stops throughout the second half before Rosario delivered the decisive kick. James Island twice came up empty on trips inside the 10-yard line, as did Hanahan. James Island was able to run out the clock following its second goal-line stand, as Hamilton ran for a first down off a direct snap to clinch the win.
James Island hosts Ashley Ridge in its home opener next Friday.
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