DALZELL — Turning a negative into a positive is a virtue of life, but in reality, it’s difficult to achieve.
The Myrtle Beach football team managed to do just that Friday night to keep its season alive.
A disputed fumble may have cost the Seahawks a score late in the first half, but the resolve they took from it may have won them the game.
The Seahawks trailed by 13 points when Brandon Sinclair was ruled to have fumbled at the end of a run at the Crestwood 10-yard line.
The Seahawks played inspired football following the call, and the 15-yard penalty coach Mickey Wilson was assessed for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing, and outscored Crestwood 17-0 from that point on to earn a 31-27 win in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
“It was a ridiculous call. He was already down and they just gave it to them,” said junior wide receiver Kelton Greene, who had six receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. “Our coach got kind of [mad], but whenever somebody gets [mad], everybody on the sideline gets hyped and it gets everybody hyped on the field, and it’s time to turn up. In the second half we had to step it up.”
The Seahawks (8-4) will travel to Strom Thurmond, a winner over North Myrtle Beach on Friday, in the second round next Friday night.
After allowing Crestwood to score on its first four possessions – often allowing big running plays through gaping holes as Crestwood tailback Jason McDaniel had 175 of his 187 yards in the first half – the Seahawks allowed just one first down on Crestwood’s next eight and final possessions.
Crestwood (9-3) felt the change in momentum just before the half, as well.
“That [fumble] gave them some life,” Knights coach Keith Crolley said. “They came out and stuffed us the first series and we couldn’t get anything going. The longer they did that the more life they got and the better they played and the worse we played.
“You can’t come out here in a ballgame and think you’ve got something won or feel you’ve arrived when you haven’t gotten to the end of it.”On Crestwood’s possessions following the fumble, the Seahawks forced five punts, recovered a fumble and forced two turnovers on downs, including one following a fake punt attempt.
“The defensive staff did an outstanding job making some adjustments at halftime, switching some personnel around and making some changes,” Wilson said. “I think in the second half we were in a little better shape and they got a little tired, and it showed.”
Sophomore quarterback Drayton Arnold completed 12 of 22 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Seahawks, while Brandon Sinclair gained 100 yards and scored a touchdown on 22 carries.
Arnold’s final TD pass was a 27-yarder to Malik Waring down the right sideline with 3:51 remaining and Sean Huggins’ extra point gave the Seahawks the 31-27 lead.
Following the late score, senior linebacker Malik Pryor stopped Shamari Fakih for 1 yard on a misdirection run on fourth-and-3 at the Crestwood 27 with 2:30 to play. “We just believed in us,” Pryor said. “We want to keep fighting and go all the way to Williams-Brice.”
A 6-yard run by Sinclair on third-and-5 at the Knights’ 23 with 1:30 remaining gave the Seahawks a game-clinching first-down.
The game appeared to be headed for a shootout in the first quarter, when each team scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Crestwood couldn’t slow Myrtle Beach’s passing game, and the Seahawks couldn’t slow Crestwood’s running game.
Arnold hit Graham Vaughn for a 46-yard score and Greene for an 81-yard score, while McDaniel scored on runs of 1 and 32 yards as the teams alternated scores. Freshman Keyonte Sessions blocked the extra point on Crestwood’s second score.
In the second quarter, Tyson Williams scored on a 41-yard misdirection run on fourth-and-6, and McDaniel scored on an 88-yard run that included several missed tackles at and just beyond the line of scrimmage to give Crestwood a 27-14 lead.
The Seahawks were poised to make the game closer before halftime when Sinclair’s fumble occured at the 10. Myrtle Beach coaches argued Sinclair was down – and video evidence later showed they were correct – and officials deemed the Seahawks argued a bit too long and vehemently and assessed them a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The Seahawks forced a three-and-out and got the ball back with 52 seconds remaining in the half, but time ran out on them at the Crestwood 31.
“The one thing we talked about at halftime was just believing in each other and playing and everything will work out, and they did that,” Wilson said.
The Seahawks turned the ball over on downs on their opening possession of the second half, as Greene reception at the sideline was marked about an inch short of the down marker, but they scored on their next two.
Defensive tackle Chase Brill ripped the ball from McDaniel on an inside run at the Crestwood 42 to set up the first score of the third quarter, and a 38-yard Greene reception down the left sideline preceded a 4-yard Sinclair touchdown run on the next play. The Seahawks added a 27-yard Huggins field goal with 2 minutes left in the third quarter after Crestwood unsuccessfully attempted a fake punt on its own 15, and got the final score with less than 4 minutes remaining.
“It was a great, great win. They kept fighting, they handled adversity, and I’m just proud of them,” Wilson said. “We just kept believing in each other, and that’s the biggest thing with this team. They’re really starting to believe in each other. We started the year with a young, inexperienced team and they’re growing and getting better, and this was a big step.”
MB-Graham Vaughn 46 pass from Drayton Arnold (Sean Huggins kick)
C-Jason McDaniel 1 run (Jonathan Ray kick)
MB-Kelton Greene 81 pass from Arnold (Huggins kick)
C-McDaniel 32 run (kick blocked)
C-Tyson Williams 41 run (pass failed)
C-McDaniel 88 run (McDaniel rush)
MB-Brandon Sinclair 4 run (Huggins kick)
MB-Huggins 27 FG
MB-Malik Waring 27 pass from Arnold (Huggins kick)
RUSHING—MB: Brandon Sinclair 22-100. Crestwood: Jason McDaniel 25-187
PASSING—MB: Drayton Arnold 12-22-0--291. Crestwood: Tyler Brown 0-3-0--0
RECEIVING—MB, Kelton Greene 6-156, Malik Waring 2-45, Graham Vaughn 2-70.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.