The two best high school football teams in the Lowcountry clashed in a defensive battle on Friday night as third-ranked Fort Dorchester hosted ninth-ranked Berkeley.

The battle lasted a half.

Fort Dorchester dominated the game defensively and exploded for 38 points in the second half, posting a 44-0 win.

But it was a game for a half.

“Berkeley took it to us,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “Their defense is a good group. They wore us out up front. Not sure what our O-line was doing, but we fixed some things at halftime and came out better in the second half. This was good for us. We needed this. I thought we grew up a lot tonight.”

The Patriots' defense racked up more than a dozen tackles for loss, had two interceptions and blocked three punts. Normal day at the office for the impressive unit that has allowed one touchdown in four games this season.

“You come watch those guys in practice and you will see why they are so good,” LaPrad said. “Lot of pride. They play as a team, and they play with great effort.”

Fort Dorchester had outstanding field position throughout the first half. In fact, the Patriots began their first five drives inside Berkeley territory. Yet, the Stags defense didn't flinch, allowing just two Steven Herron field goals as the Patriots led just 6-0 at halftime.

Berkeley’s offense struggled mightily except for a couple of pass plays. The Stags threatened only once in the first half, and that drive ended with an interception. Fort Dorchester allowed 57 total yards in the first half, and Berkeley failed to reach 100 yards in the game.

The second half was more like Fort Dorchester. The Patriots needed just four plays of the third quarter to score their first touchdown – a 53-yard pass from freshman quarterback Zolten Osborne to senior Qway Simmons. Osborne finished with 164 passing yards in the game.

On their next possession, Dwayne Wright capped a 60-yard drive with a 1-yard dive and a 20-0 lead with 5:47 left in the third.

Jy’heim Wilson’s second blocked punt of the night set up a 2-yard run by DeAndrae Sabb with 4:36 remaining and a 27-0 lead. Wilson blocked a third punt late in the fourth quarter. It was Wilson’s fourth block in the last two games.

Herron’s third field goal of the game pushed the score to 30-0 with 8:51 to play and Wright rumbled 34 yards for a touchdown with 6:37 remaining in the game. Mel Wilder added a 2-yard run after Wilson’s third punt block for the 44-0 lead with 4:11 remaining in the game.

“Their defense, they have 11 guys that can flat-out play,” Berkeley coach Randy Robinson said. “If we could have just managed some first downs early, give our defense a little break, I think it’s a different second half. We got whipped in every phase, including outcoached.”

Fort Dorchester will host Goose Creek next week, while Berkeley hosts Summerville.

Reach Andrew Miller at 843-937-5599. Follow him on Twitter @APMILLER_PandC

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