MONCKS CORNER — Four teams with identical 2-2 Region 8-AAA records remained in contention for three playoff berths entering the final week of the regular season.
As two of those squads whose postseason fate hung in the balance, there was no questioning the importance of Thursday’s game between Hilton Head and Berkeley.
The Stags excelled under pressure, as Ezekial Jenkins and Joshua Sellers combined for five touchdowns to lead Berkeley to a 52-31 win at Gerald Moody Stadium.
While a spot in the playoffs is secure, the Stags (4-6 overall, 3-2 Region 8-AAA) must wait until the conclusion of today’s games to learn their seed and opening-round opponent. If Orangeburg-Wilkinson defeats James Island, Berkeley will claim the second seed and host the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAA next week. A Trojans win hands the Stags the third seed and a road match against the second seed from Region 5-AAA.
“We probably lost some games we shouldn’t have lost,” said second-year Berkeley coach Jeff Cruce. “But, hey, we are where we are. We’re 4-6 and have a chance to finish second in the region. It’s not what we envisioned when we started the season, but we’ll take it.”
The Seahawks (5-5, 2-3) will also be rooting for a Bruins win, which would give Hilton Head the fourth and final playoff spot.
Berkeley got off to a fast start, as Jenkins ran 76 yards to the Seahawks’ 4-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. Two snaps later, quarterback Matthew Harkness connected with Dylan Baker for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Hilton Head 0 16 3 13 –32
Berkeley 10 14 21 6 – 51
B – Dylan Baker 5 pass from Matthew Harkness (Vance Bailey kick)
B – Bailey 32 field goal
HH – Adam Orischak 12 pass from Michael Julian (Khalil Lewis run)
B – Ezekial Jenkins 5 run (Bailey kick)
B – Joshua Sellers 3 run (Bailey kick)
HH – Lewis 4 run (Orischak pass from Julian)
B – Sellers 25 run (Bailey kick)
HH – Colin White 31 field goal
B – Harkness 30 run (Bailey kick)
B – Jenkins 75 pass from Harkness (Bailey kick)
HH – James Sanders 55 pass from Julian (conversion failed), 4:21
B – Jenkins 65 run (Bailey kick failed), 3:33
HH – Lewis 1 run (White good), 0:51
Vance Bailey added a 32-yard field goal before the first quarter expired for a 10-0 Berkeley advantage.
Each team found the end zone twice in the second quarter as the Stags led, 24-16, at halftime following a pair of Hilton Head two-point conversions.
“(The Seahawks were) playing for the same thing we were playing for,” Cruce said. “We had to come out with a lot of intensity and try to win the game. We just needed a win.”
Sellers extended Berkeley’s lead to 15 points less than three minutes after the break. The junior ran for scores of 3 and 25 yards and turned in a 122-yard rushing performance on 15 carries.
Jenkins, meanwhile, carried 16 times for 246 yards. In addition to two scores on the ground, he added a 75-yard touchdown reception.
“It’s nice to have two different running backs that can run the football, and we have a third one there in (Dantzler),” Cruce said. “Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the next game.”
Harkness (30-yard keeper) and James Sanders (55-yard reception) also found the end zone for the Stags, who outgained Hilton Head by a 565-445 margin.