For the second consecutive year, the Fort Dorchester Patriots are a win away from reaching their first-ever state championship game.
The Patriots overcame a slow start and dismantled visiting Boiling Springs, 56-34, to advance to the Division I-AAAA state semifinals. The Patriots, now 13-0, will host area rival Goose Creek next Friday night. The Gators upended defending state champion Hillcrest, 50-49, to advance.
Fort Dorchester and Goose Creek played earlier this season with the Patriots winning, 20-13.
Sophomore quarterback Dakereon Joyner rushed for 124 yards and four touchdowns while passing for 206 yards and two scores to lead a Fort Dorchester offense that produced nearly 500 total yards. Senior running back Datron James added 136 yards rushing and two scores.
Boiling Springs junior quarterback Mason Streater passed for more than 300 yards, but the Bulldogs were plagued by mistakes, committing four turnovers and suffering from numerous bad shotgun snaps that resulted in negative yardage.
Boiling Springs scored three times in the opening quarter and led 21-14 after one period, but the Patriots’ defense settled down and their offense scored five unanswered touchdowns.
“I’m proud of our team,” Fort Dorchester coach Steve LaPrad said. “That’s a good ballclub, and you’re going to give up some points when you play a team like that. We had to make some adjustments. We never panicked. We have a good bunch. They just love to play.”
Boiling Springs started the early scoring barrage with a little trickery, scoring on a double pass when Streater swung a pass out to Robinson, who lofted it downfield to a wide-open Darrell Roberts for a 41-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
After Fort Dorchester punted on its first possession, Boiling Springs suffered its first mishap of the game when a low snap back to Streater resulted in a fumble recovery for Fort Dorchester at the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line.
Five plays later, Joyner pushed in from a yard out to tie the game, 7-7, with 6:42 left in the quarter.
After a long kickoff return gave the Bulldogs a first down at the Fort Dorchester 40, Streater raced 40 yards on the first play for a 14-7 lead.
The Patriots answered that score in four plays as Joyner hit Diondre Champaigne on a 44-yard touchdown play, tying the game at 14 with 3:58 left in the quarter.
However, Streater went to work again, leading the Bulldogs downfield on six-play, 65-yard drive and hitting Michael Bollinger on a 5-yard pass for a 21-14 lead with 1:23 to play.
Early in the second, the Patriots capped a nine-play drive with James’ 1-yard dive, tying the game at 21 with 9:55 to play.
From that point, it was all Fort Dorchester.
After recovering a fumble, Fort Dorchester went 77 yards on nine plays with Joyner scoring on a 4-yard run to give the Patriots their first lead of the night, 28-21, with 4:40 remaining.
Boiling Springs hit a 60-yard pass play to reach Fort Dorchester’s 5-yard line, but consecutive bad snaps and a sack forced the Bulldogs into a fourth-and-goal from the 29. After the pass fell incomplete, the Patriots drove 71 yards on six plays, with Joyner pushing the lead to 35-21 on a 16-yard scamper with 30 seconds left in the half.
Fort Dorchester opened the third quarter with a 69-yard scoring drive as Joyner scored on a 2-yard run. The lead grew to 49-21 when James scored on a 2-yard run with 2:40 left in the third.
After Streater scored on a 1-yard run, the Patriots went right back downfield and Joyner tossed a 10-yard pass to Raquan Simmons for a 56-28 lead with 10:23 to play in the game.
“We practice and prepare all week,” Joyner said. “We played hard, played fast and played physical. Even with our defense struggling in the first half, we had their back. Last week, we struggled some offensively and they had our back. We’re a team.”