Benton’s injury halts kicking contest with BC’s Quigley

A special-teams matchup that would have been truly special for Grand Strand football fans has been sidelined due to injury.

With Clemson set to take on Boston College on Saturday, locals were set to see former North Myrtle Beach High and current Golden Eagles punter Ryan Quigley go head-to-head (or rather toe-to-toe) with former Myrtle Beach High and Tigers’ kicker Spencer Benton.

However, Benton suffered a broken shoulder blade in last week’s 23-3 victory over Virginia Tech and is expected to miss six to eight weeks while recovering from the injury. The Tigers lose more than a booming foot without Benton in the lineup.

Benton kicks off, place holds and serves as backup punter and placekicker for the Tigers. As Clemson’s all-time leader in tackles for a kicker (15), Benton has earned the respect of his teammates for being more football player than kicker.

“We’re going to miss Spencer because he did so many thing for us,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of the junior. “A lot of people take those things for granted but losing someone that does all those things on special teams can hurt you. He’s going to be tough to replace.”

Like Benton, Quigley also has endeared himself to his teammates, most of whom reside in the Northeast. They call him “Quigs” for obvious reasons, or “Swamp People” for his Southern accent, which has faded after four years in Chestnut Hill.

Quigley also has been carrying a full load at Boston College. As a four-year starter handling both the punting and kickoff duties, the senior is closing in on school records for both – unfortunately for him and the Eagles, more the former than the latter.

With the Eagles struggling offensively over the past 2 1/2 seasons, Quigley set a single-season record in 2009 for punts (77) only to break his own mark last year (79). So far this season he has 26 punts for an average of 40 yards per attempt as Boston College is off to a 1-4 start.

It could be a long day for Quigley, at least in his punting duties, against the No. 8 and undefeated Tigers, but at least he will get to see a familiar face from his high school days, even if Benton’s not on the field. The two have kept in touch despite time and distance thanks to Facebook, and they have worked together at the same summer kicking camp back home.

“It was a big rivalry when they were in high school, both in football and in soccer, but they they developed a friendship over the years,” said father Joe Quigley, the AD at North Myrtle Beach. “I think they have a lot respect for each other based on their ability and work ethic.”

The Tigers should be able to handle the Eagles without the services of Benton, but the game will lose some of its local luster without both Grand Strand kicking products stepping foot on the field.

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