LITTLE RIVER — For everything you can say about Socastee’s run since the start of the 2012 season, the Braves haven’t been a part of many close games.
Entering Friday’s Region VII-AAA showdown at North Myrtle Beach, Socastee hadn’t had a game decided by single digits. That list included 14 victories and a lopsided loss to Hartsville in last year’s Class AAA playoffs. Socastee kept that streak of double-digit games alive with a 38-28 victory over the Chiefs, but this wasn’t what the Braves have come to expect.
“I thought we responded well. We didn’t panic,” Socastee coach Doug Illing said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and we looked for some things. We executed well in the second half.”
Socastee forced a pair of fumbles and a pair of interceptions in the second half alone. They also blocked a punt in the end zone at the beginning of the fourth quarter that led to another score.
Taking advantage of those miscues was just as big as Socastee quarterback Hunter Renfrow’s 231 yards rushing, his long return on a punt and a pair of interceptions.
It was what the team needed to overcome North Myrtle Beach senior tailback Delonzo Williams’ huge evening. The senior finished with 237 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
It was a far cry from the match-up a year ago between these two teams. Both came into the game with plenty of momentum, only to see Socastee blow out another opponent.
The Chiefs’ defensive game plan against Socastee was excellent early. Renfrow was bottled up until the midway point of the second quarter. The Socastee quarterback had just 12 yards on his first seven carries. Braves teammate Delano Walters needed even longer to get going. He finished with just 52 yards, although he did have a pair of touchdowns.
A good chunk of that had to do with the North Myrtle Beach offense. The Chiefs chewed up nearly six minutes in the first quarter with their opening drive, using three ball-carriers. North Myrtle Beach capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Furness to Cameron Gore.
“Our team can play with anybody,” Chiefs coach Perry Woolbright said. “That is probably one of the better teams in the state in AAA. That’s a team we could easily see again in the playoffs right there. We hung with them all night. I easily feel that either of us could go on to win the region.”
For now, though, the Braves are certainly in the driver’s seat for that distinction. The region champion will also have another benefit.
The winner will have guaranteed home-field advantage throughout the Lower State title game, assuming those winning ways continue in the playoffs.
Of course, the Braves lost at home to eventual state champion Hartsville in the playoffs a year ago, but no team would sacrifice home-field advantage given the option. But Socastee won’t have much time to think about that.
The Braves will move on to play Myrtle Beach next week at home. Another win there would be just as big as Friday’s.
These last four region games will include a new-found knowledge for Socastee.
“We grew up a lot tonight,” Renfrow said. “Our goal was to be 1-0 this week, and we accomplished that goal. Our defense played great in the second half.”
NMB-Cameron Gore 4 rec from Kendrick Furness (Christian Buis kick)
SOC-Matt Trimby 38 FG
NMB-Furness 6 run (Buis kick)
SOC-Delano Walters 3 run (Trimby kick)
SOC-Hunter Renfrow 18 run (Trimby kick)
SOC – Richard Cherry blocked punt recovered in end zone (Trimby kick)
NMB – Delonzo Williams 49 run (Buis kick)
SOC – Kyle Smith 2 run (Trimby kick)
NMB –Williams 2 run (Buis kick)
SOC – Walters 14 run (Trimby kick)
RUSHING—Socastee: Hunter Renfrow 22-231; Delano Walters 17-52; Kyle Smith 8-19; Devin Melko 1-7. NMB: Delonzo Williams 24-237; Kendrick Furness 9-65; Colby Gore 5-26; Laquinn Bellamy 3-48.
PASSING—Socastee: Renfrow 2-4-1, 7 yards. NMB: Furness 13-27-3, 175.
RECEIVING—Socastee: Matt Trimby 2-7. NMB: Colby Gore 2-13; Cameron Gore 5-97; Tyrique Robinson 1-5; Kyle Cooper 4-38; Jordan Perry 2-22.
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.