Things had come rather easily for Myrtle Beach of late.
Working with machine-like efficiency, the Seahawks had scored better than 30 points in each of their four games this season, helping the squad receive the nod by prep writers as the Palmetto State’s top team in Class 4A.
But down 21-17 in the fourth quarter to rival Carolina Forest, none of that mattered. The frame of mind for those on the Myrtle Beach sideline was simple – make a play.
And as fate would have it, Jermani Green was ready and willing.
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On a third-and-18 play midway through the final stanza, the sophomore running back caught a simple screen pass from quarterback Lawson Cribb hoping to steal a few yards. Instead, he snagged the whole pot, streaking up the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown.
The play would prove to be a the difference in the game, allowing the top-ranked Seahawks to survive a game effort by Carolina Forest, 24-21.
“Sometimes you have ugly wins … you don’t like them to be ugly, but you’re happy to have the win nevertheless,” said Myrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson. “I think the biggest thing is that I’m proud of our kids because we faced a lot of adversity tonight, and that’s something we talked about going into the game. We’ve had some wins as of late where we’ve been able to beat up on some teams and get ahead of them early. So I’m proud of my kids for being able to go through that adversity and pull out a big win.”
Playing its first game without the services of standout running back Dyverse Simmons, Carolina Forest took the fight to Myrtle Beach early on.
Though sticking to their philosophy heavily slanted toward its ground game, the Panthers showcased a surprisingly efficient passing attack. Down 3-0, the Panthers took their second possession of the game 80 yards, quarterback Matt Beale putting a bow on the drive with a 34-yard touchdown to wide receiver Justin Elko.
Following a three-and-out by the Seahawks, Carolina Forest added to its lead as Beale called his own number and ran 13 yards into the end zone, giving the visiting Panthers a 14-3 lead.
For much of the early portion of the season, the Myrtle Beach defense has served as a stabilizing force for the team. Just as it had done on so many occasions, the unit helped the Seahawks turn the tide.
The Seahawks made Carolina Forest pay following fumbles on consecutive drives late in the first half, scoring touchdowns on both – all-purpose man Keyonte Sessions scoring the first on a 3-yard run, the other on an 18-yard strike from Cribb to wideout Marcus Grissett. With a 17-14 lead heading into intermission, it seemed momentum was firmly on the side of the young men in the chrome helmets.
“We were up 14-3 there in the second quarter, and those turnovers kind of game them life,” said Carolina Forest football coach Marc Morris.
The Panthers were far from done, though. After a Beale pass was intercepted early in the second half, the Carolina Forest defense put the ball back in his hands a few plays later, picking off a Cribb pass in the end zone.
A game consisting of more than its share of big plays, no one had more than Elko, who followed up his touchdown in the first half with a 64-yard catch and run in the third period. The big gainer put the Panthers at the Myrtle Beach 3-yard line, allowing running back Anthony McAfee to do the rest, crossing the goal line to give Carolina Forest a 21-17 lead.
It was a lead it would hold well into the fourth, until Green’s big play swung the pendulum in favor of the Seahawks once and for all.
“The play we had our three wide receiver set outside, and we just told them to run and take the defense with them,” Cribb said. “(Green) just made an amazing play. … It was crazy, and it helped us get the win.”
With the win, Myrtle Beach moves to 5-0 on the season heading into next’s week’s backyard brawl with Conway. Meanwhile, Carolina Forest (3-1) will take on Loris.
Despite the loss, Morris’ confidence has not diminished whatsoever, with the squad buying in to the fact that the team is bigger than one man.
“Our kids did a good job,” the Carolina Forest head man said. “We felt all week that we had a chance to win the game. And no matter who played, it was next man up and they need to get in there and do their role and play their part. … Our kids battled back and had the lead in the fourth quarter, but give (Wilson) and Myrtle Beach credit, they’re a good football team and found a way to win.”
MB — Matthew Card 23 field goal
CF — Justin Elko 34 pass from Matt Beale (Freddie Kane kick)
CF — Beale 13 run (Kane kick)
MB — Keyonte Sessions 3 run (Card kick)
MB — Marcus Grissett 18 pass from Lawson Cribb (Card kick)
CF — Anthony McAfee 3 run (Kane kick)
MB — Jermani Green 64 pass from Cribb (Card kick)
Rushing: CF: Derrick Alston 1-7, Anthony McAfee 18-95, Matt Beale 14-59, Nas Nesmith 4-3, Richmond Collier 4-14, Jordan Ferrell 3-4. MB: Jermani Green 12-40, Keyonte Sessions 5-11, Lawson Cribb 5-(-21), Toronto King 3-20.
Passing: CF: Matt Beale 9-16-1-163. MB: Cribb 17-32-3-304.
Receiving: CF: Collier 1-11, Justin Elko 4-116, Ismael Garcia 3-23, Derrick Alston 1-13. MB: Daron Finkley 6-115, Green 4-83, Jaquan Chestnut 3-59, Marcus Grissett 2-23, Sessions 1-4, Will Vereen 1-20.