BLUFFTON — Gerald Roberson didn’t seem like himself.
The Bluffton High School wing back entered this past offseason ready to shoulder the load for a Bobcats offense that was preparing for life without its usual stable of stars. But a pair of surgeries to repair both a sports hernia and a hobbled left ankle derailed any hope of a fast start.
Until Friday. The senior scored three touchdowns while adding 89 yards of total offense on 13 touches, lifting Bluffton to its latest come-from-behind victory, a 35-34 win over James Island.
“He’s finally back,” coach Ken Cribb said. “... He stepped up tonight.”
The Bobcats scored twice in the final eight minutes — the first of which came on Roberson’s final score — to take the lead for good. James Island drove inside the Bluffton 30 hoping to escape with a win, but Trojans kicker Hutch Fontaine missed a 47-yard field goal with under a minute to play to seal it.
“These kids, they don’t quit and they don’t panic,” Cribb said. “They get after it.”
Roberson’s surgeries took away both the speed and flexibility that made him such a threat out of the Bobcats’ backfield a year ago. But he finally seemed to regain his footing against the Trojans (1-4), who blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead en route to another Bluffton thriller.
“The first couple weeks I felt like there was so much pressure on me and I was just trying to do everything for the team,” Roberson said. “I just started playing my role and we came out with the ‘W.’ ”
Roberson scored a pair of first-half touchdowns to keep Bluffton (4-1) on pace with James Island, which used the powerful legs of Buss Hamilton — who finished with 41 carries for 171 yards — to keep the Bobcats’ offense on the sidelines. After the Trojans took a 34-21 lead early in the fourth quarter, Roberson and his teammates went to work.
The wing back’s third and final score of the night capped an 85-yard drive to pull Bluffton within six. Defensive end Shameik Blackshear then followed with his biggest play of the season, as the South Carolina commitment knifed through the backfield to force a Hamtilon fumble.
The Bobcats recovered before quarterback Alex Davis gave them the lead for good with an 8-yard touchdown run.
“It was a challenge, because the first half they weren’t coming my way,” said Blackshear, who also added a sack. “The second half, they were coming at me the whole time. I felt like I was being disrespected a little bit, so I had to come to play.”
Bluffton will try to up its win streak to four in next Friday’s Bridge Bowl at Hilton Head Island High. The Bobcats have won six straight in the series and will look to register another win before embarking on Region 8-AAAA play.
“We fought and came back hard and came back with the ‘W,’ ” Roberson said. “It meant a lot because we don’t want to lose any more games this year. We said we aren’t going to lose any more games, no matter what.”
James Island 7 14 7 6—34
Bluffton High 7 14 0 14—35
JI—Andrew Hutto 10 catch from Ty Stubbs (Hutch Fontaine kick)
BLF—Jawara Middleton 49 catch from Alex Davis (Ken Mayo kick)
JI—Stubbs 1 rush (Fontaine kick)
BLF—Gerald Roberson 1 rush (kick failed)
JI—Aaron Davis 46 catch from Stubbs (Fontaine kick)
BLF—Roberson 1 rush (Davis rush)
JI—Buss Hamilton 1 rush (Fontaine kick)
JI—Hamilton 1 rush (kick failed)
BLF—Roberson 7 rush (Mayo kick)
BLF—Davis 8 rush (Mayo kick)