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Hilton Head Christian completes perfect season with AA title

Hilton Head Christian Defeats Carolina Academy 42-14 To Complete 12-0 Perfect Season & Win SCISA AA Football Championship  

By David Shelton

Senior Writer 

North Charleston – After coming up a little short in the 2019 state title game, the Hilton Head Christian Academy Eagles finished 2020 with a perfect 12-0 record at the SCISA Class AA state championship.

Hilton Head Christian completed a 12-0 season with a 42-14 defeat of Carolina Academy in the title game at Charleston Southern University on Nov. 21. The win avenged an overtime loss to Trinity Collegiate last year.

“This is a tribute to what hard work and believing as a team can do,” Hilton Head Christian head coach Ron Peduzzi said. “We’ve been a team of play makers all season and today was the same. We made some big plays at key times and then handed it over to our defense. Our defense was lights out all season so their performance today was nothing unexpected.”

The Hilton Head Christian defense pitched a shutout through three quarters after the Eagles had built a 35-0 lead. Carolina Academy (8-2) finished the game with 233 total yards, most of it coming in the fourth quarter.

Offensively,  rotating quarterbacks J.P. Peduzzi and Jace Blackshear combined for 226 passing yards. Peduzzi threw for 127 yards and had two interceptions on defense, returning one for a score.

Blackshear added 89 yards passing and 69 yards rushing, scoring twice on the ground.

It took nearly a quarter for any scoring but the Eagles broke the drought on Blackshear’s three-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 2:51 left in the opening period. The Eagles converted a third-and-20 earlier in the drive on a 48-yard pass from Peduzzi to Cameron Strickland.

Hilton Head Christian threatened to score again on their next possession but was stopped on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. Carolina took over and was tackled in the end zone for a safety when Kent Camp took down George Wilder.

After the free kick, the Eagles converted a third-and-11 and a fourth-and-15 before Blackshear finished the drive with a two-yard run and a 16-0 lead with 5:25 remaining in the half.

The Bobcats managed only 70 total yards in the first half while Hilton Head finished with 206 yards.

Carolina fumbled on the opening play of the third quarter and the Eagles made them pay. On fourth-and-18 from the 21-yard line, Blackshear flipped a screen to Jackson Lanier, who broke several tackles along the sideline and reached the end zone for a 22-0 lead less than three minutes into the period.

“Those conversions were huge plays and it’s just a confidence our kids have,” Peduzzi said. “We go for it a lot on fourth down. We just have guys who make plays.”

Late in the third, Peduzzi recorded his second interception and returned the pick 49 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

“The feeling we had after losing last year was all the motivation we needed to get back here again and win it,” J.P. Peduzzi said.

The Eagles stopped Carolina on fourth-and-2 from their own 33 and Lanier covered 29 yards on two carries, scoring on a three-yard run with seven seconds left in the third. The Eagles carried a 35-0 lead into the final period.

The Bobcats never quit and scored twice in the fourth quarter. George Wilder scored on a three-yard run early in the period. Matthew Joye threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Matt Gaskins for the other score.

“Been here five times and got my butt whipped five times but I am really proud of the kids,” Carolina head coach T.J. Joye said. “We never quit. To be here in this game was a blessing. We weren’t sure we would even have a season and we went a month without a game. Our kids gave a great effort all season. We just weren’t good enough today.”

Joye is stepping down as head coach and athletic director at Carolina Academy. He was recently elected the Sheriff of Florence County and will assume those duties on January 4.

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