BLACKVILLE, S.C. - This was not how it was supposed to end.
Blackville-Hilda had waited 364 days to get revenge on Lake View for its loss in the 2002 Class A semifinals. The Fighting Hawks had not forgotten the long bus ride across the state and the empty feeling that accompanied it after last year's 21-6 loss.
Friday night, when the time came for revenge, Blackville-Hilda couldn't follow the script as it lost a 6-3 decision to its cross-state rival and was eliminated from the state football playoffs.
Kicker Lucas Cooper missed a 25-yard field goal with 2:02 to play - his second miss of the game, both wide right - that would have tied the score. Lake View took over and ran out the clock, much to the delight of the large group of fans who made the long trip to Huggins Stadium.
Cooper's kick appeared to be good to the Blackville-Hilda contingent, but the officials underneath the goal posts signaled otherwise.
"It was hard to tell from where we were at," Blackville-Hilda coach David Berry said of Cooper's effort. "I guess that's why they've got posts."
The senior kicker had been almost automatic this year, converting more than 50 point-after-touchdown kicks and the majority of his field goal tries. He even had the wind at his back on both failed attempts, but missed both on the right side.
"You're going to make some, you're going to miss some," Berry said.
Lake View coach Jewell McLaurin felt fortunate to get out of Blackville with the win.
"We were lucky he missed them," McLaurin said. "I'm just glad we won."
The game featured some of the state's best running backs: Lake View's Vernell Jones, a Shrine Bowl selection, and the Blackville-Hilda duo of Tharry Salley and Marcus Allen.
Each back rushed for more than 100 yards, but defense ruled the game.
Lake View (13-1) scored on its first possession, driving 56 yards after a short Blackville-Hilda punt. Jones scored on a 4-yard run for a 6-0 lead, but the extra-point attempt failed after a penalty pushed Lake View back five yards.
Blackville-Hilda (13-1) scored its only points of the half on a 21-yard field goal by Cooper with four seconds remaining before intermission. The kick capped the Fighting Hawks' most productive possession of the half, a drive from their own 19-yard line to the Wild Gators' 4-yard line in less than a minute.
Blackville-Hilda had not been challenged in its first three playoff games, defeating Elloree 45-8, Green Sea-Floyds 49-0 and St. John's 40-8. But Lake View, which lost to Lamar in last year's championship game, presented a much stiffer challenge.
"We had two very good football teams playing tonight," Berry said. "We came up on the short end."
Blackville-Hilda has not won a state championship in football since 1995, but Berry has plenty of reason to be optimistic. Both Salley, a junior, and Allen, a freshman, will return next year, and the team will lose only four seniors.
"Every year we make the playoffs and go two or three rounds deep," he said. "It helps the young kids."
Although Lake View came out on top of Blackville-Hilda for the second-straight year, Berry pointed out that his team held the visitors scoreless in the second half and had its chances to win.
"I'm proud of them," he said.
Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.