An impressive start to the season got even better for coach Blair Hardin’s North Myrtle Beach team as his Chiefs manhandled an old nemesis.
The Chiefs hit the road and controlled the action from the start, snapping a nine-game losing streak to Socastee with a 45-3 victory over the Braves.
Hardin watch his team reach the halfway mark of the regular season unbeaten at 5-0 as the Chiefs’ defense limited Socastee to 117 yards total offense, kept the Braves out of the end zone and sacked quarterback Hunter Illing four times.
“We knew it would be a tough environment (playing at Socastee),” Hardin said. “I’m just proud of our team effort all the way around. Our defense played well. I was very proud of our front four – they got pressure on the quarterback, who is a very good quarterback. (It was) just good team defense, so I’m very proud of our guys.”
The Chiefs offense was balanced under the direction of senior Ronnie Bass, who completed 9 of 11 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, plus ran for another score.
Backs T.J. Gore and Kered Class keyed the running game, which compiled 241 yards on 36 carries. Gore gained 131 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown while Class carried 12 times for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Gore capped the scoring with a 40-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter to go over the 100-yard mark.
“He just makes plays,” Hardin said. “We talked yesterday at our meeting about players make plays and he made plays for our team.”
The Chiefs visit Camden next Friday before opening Region VII-AAAA play with a home showdown against Myrtle Beach on Sept. 30.
“One thing I’m happy (about is) we’re healthy and our guys are trying to get better each week,” Hardin said. “We still have mistakes but our guys have bought into trying to do things right and we’re healthy, so one game at a time.”
Socastee was held to 32 total yards in the first half and trailed 17-0 at intermission, but the Braves opened the second half with their best drive of the night, marching up-tempo 56 yards in 9 plays to the North Myrtle Beach 18. Fernando Velez capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal.
Velez’ kick cut the lead to 17-3 and gave the Braves a moment of momentum. But North Myrtle Beach junior return man Reece Finch quickly snatched it back for the Chiefs by returning the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 24-3 with 8:09 left in the third quarter. From there the Chiefs scored three unanswered touchdowns to pull further away.
Illing completed 12 of 21 passes for 81 yards with an interception as the Braves fell to 1-3. Socastee visits S.C. 707 rival St. James next Friday.
“That’s a good football team right there, we got beat by a good football team tonight,” Socastee coach Doug Illing said of the Chiefs. “Our kids gave great effort – I’m very proud of them.
“We’ve got tough kids and they’re going to grind hard. They’ll be at work on Monday and be ready to go. We’ll grind another one out next week. We’ve just got to keep grinding, keep working hard and keep improving each and every day and we’ll get there.”
NMB - FG 47, Andrew Smith
NMB - Reece Finch 21 pass from Ronnie Bass (Smith kick)
NMB - Kered Class 2 run (Smith kick)
S - FG 35, Fernando Velez
NMB - Finch 89 kickoff return (Smith kick)
NMB - Tyler Gore 22 pass from Bass (Smith kick)
NMB - Bass 4 run (Smith kick)
NMB - T.J. Gore 40 run (Smith kick)
Rushing: NMB: T.J. Gore 12-131, Class 12-80, Bass 7-26, Tyler Gore 1-8. S: Edward Tucker 15-52, Malachi McClendon 3-8, Deshaun Myers 4-1, Hunter Illing 7-(-25).
Passing: NMB: Bass 9-11-0, 115. S: Illing 12-21-1, 81.
Receiving: NMB: Finch 3-34, Tyler Gore 2-48, Xavier Clarida 2-18, Cullin Mitchell 1-14. S: Aeneas Green 5-15, McClendon 3-5, Zach Shear 1-20, Edward Tucker 1-18.