MYRTLE BEACH — Cortez Brown wasn’t going to let a negated defensive touchdown slow him down Saturday.
The Conway sophomore lost a 92-yard interception return early when a teammate’s block in the back wiped out the score. Brown more than made up for it.
The emerging two-way player rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns, pushing the Tigers to a 32-14 victory over New Hanover (N.C.) in the finale of the Derrick Law Firm Carolinas Kickoff Clash at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium. Brown’s offensive production came almost exclusively out of the Wildcat package, a convenient name given it is New Hanover’s mascot.
“He’s certainly not a pocket passer, but he gives us a different dimension,” Conway coach Chuck Jordan said. “That’s part of the package that we have. We’ll let Cortez back there and pick holes. Cortez is a good running back.”
Brown’s night came in part after Jordan discovered starting quarterback Ethan Smith was under the weather. Smith finished with 66 yards passing and a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to standout receiver Bryan Edwards. However, he was in and out of the game from the get-go.
When he was playing during the opening half, he was primarily handing the ball off to senior tailback DeAndre Hickman, who had 76 yards on 21 carries. And when Smith was on the sidelines, it was Brown taking direct snaps and chewing up time.
Conway (1-1) led 20-0 at halftime, and the game was never in doubt from there, primarily because the two tailbacks were chewing up clock. The biggest evidence of that was the Tigers’ first drive of the fourth quarter.
After getting the ball on the New Hanover 48-yard line, Conway used a 12-play drive that included four short Smith passes to Edwards, four Hickman runs and four Brown carries.
“Once we got up a couple scores, we went in at halftime and decided we were going to milk the clock at every opportunity, particularly if we could keep them off the boards. We put them in the position where they had to try to make things happen,” Jordan said.
The result of a panicking Wildcats’ offense was two second-half interceptions. Those accompanied a pair of New Hanover fumbles on kickoff returns during the opening half. Conway more often than made those gaffes hurt even more by scoring 20 points off those four turnovers.
It certainly wasn’t what many were expecting from the Wildcats. New Hanover (0-1) came into the season as one of North Carolina’s top-20 Class AAAA programs after going 11-2 and averaging more than 41 points per game in 2012.
Jordan said the run-first scheme could be used again this Friday at Rock Hill and in other future games this season. Brown, though, wasn’t overly complimentary of what he and Hickman accomplished.
The sophomore received game MVP honors, but added a continued need for improvement, especially given last week’s loss to Georgetown.
“We’ve got to know where our holes are at,” Brown said. “But we’ll get it right. It keeps [the clock] moving. We’ve got to get it right. We can’t just run the whole time. But if it’s working, we’re going to keep doing it.”
C – Cortez Brown 2 run (Brown run)
C – Brown 5 run (conv. failed)
C – Brown 1 run (conv. failed)
NH – Ramone Simpson 4 run (Kieran Aab kick)
C – Bryan Edwards 13 rec (conv. failed)
C – Damonique Owens 36 INT return (conv. failed)
NH – Trequan Age 28 run (Aab kick)
RUSHING—NH – Romone Simpson 14-96; Terron Piedra 6-28; Trequan Age 1-28; Malachi Mosley 2-9; Ward Coleman 2-4; Jamius Beckett 1-0. C – Cortez Brown 20-95; DeAndre Hickman 21-76; Martwain Bellamy 3-3.
PASSING—NH –Coleman 12-27-3, 158 yards; Burke Estes 0-2-0. C – Ethan Smith 10-21-1, 66 yards; Brown 0-1-0.
RECEIVING—NH – Simpson 4-41; Parese Williams 3-38; Travon Holliday 4-67; Karon Reid 1-12. C – Bryan Edwards 6-59; Ikeem Coles 2-9; Marco Phifer 2-(-)9.
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