On most occasions, Myrtle Beach head football coach Mickey Wilson finds it difficult to find one word to describe the Seahawks’ all-purpose man, Keyonte Sessions.
But on Friday night, when the senior standout’s best was necessary, he had one – special.
Doing double duty – seeing time as the team’s quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker and kick returner – his effort proved to be the difference, helping Myrtle Beach to a 43-23 victory over rival North Myrtle Beach in a clash of undefeated teams.
“It’s my senior year, and I knew I had some big shoes to fill this year with (former Myrtle Beach standouts) Brandon Sinclair and Drayton Arnold leaving,” he said. “I just had to do my job and help my team get the win.”
Certainly, Sessions brought his lunch pail in this one, particularly in the fourth quarter with the Seahawks clinging to a 29-23 advantage.
One of the worst kept secrets in high school football, everyone knows when the Myrtle Beach senior lines up at quarterback in the “Rhino” package, he is getting the ball. Yet on this night, North Myrtle Beach was helpless to stop it.
Sessions put a bow on the night, running the ball 10 straight times down the stretch for 54 yards and a touchdown. After quarterback Lawson Cribb’s pass to Jaquan Chestnut for a two-point conversion, the Seahawks went up 37-23.
“Down there toward the end, we just put the ball in his hands,” Wilson said. “He took the game over, I’m really proud of him. He’s been a great leader for us on and off the field, and you saw tonight, he made plays all over the place.”
Following Sessions’ second touchdown of the game on a 46-yard fumble return, it did not seem as if he would later be needed to step into the hero’s role as Myrtle Beach was in cruise control with a 29-6 lead. However, if there is one thing teams have come to learn about a Blair Hardin-coached ball club, it is that despite the circumstances quit is not a part of its vocabulary.
North Myrtle Beach scored on three consecutive possessions – a stretch ranging from late in the third quarter to the final period.
A T.J. Gore 4-yard touchdown run, followed by a 46-yard field goal by kicker Andrew Smith, cut the Myrtle Beach lead to 29-16. After a Seahawks 3-and-out, the Chiefs continued the momentum, needing only five plays to hit pay dirt, the touchdown coming this time courtesy of running back Kered Class, whose 3-yard scamper and an extra point by Smith had North Myrtle Beach down by a mere six points.
Hit with a 16-point flurry in the game’s opening minutes, the Chiefs battled through adverse situations all game long and yet, with eight minutes remaining, they were a stop from potentially being in position to steal the game. On this night, though, the mountain simply proved too steep.
Sessions’ effort, along with a rash of turnovers and other miscues – in particular, four lost fumbles, blocked punt and a missed field goal – really stuck with the North Myrtle Beach coach after the game, lamenting what he saw as an opportunity lost.
“We played a very poor first half… very, very poor,” Hardin said. “Turnovers killed us and we gave them short fields … a punt block and the opening kick return dug a hole.
“We had chances late in the fourth quarter, down by six with a few minutes left and we just couldn’t finish. (Myrtle Beach) played a good ballgame, they’re a good football team.”
Myrtle Beach led wire-to-wire, running back Jermani Green taking the game’s opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Moments later, a blocked punt recovered in the end zone by North Myrtle Beach gave the Seahawks a bonus two points, extending their lead to 9-0.
Sessions’ first trip to the end zone further stretched the Myrtle Beach advantage, a 38-yard touchdown run giving the team a 16-0 lead. North Myrtle Beach’s Ronnie Bass did his part to at least supply his team with a jolt, a second quarter 75-yard touchdown run putting his team on the scoreboard.
Myrtle Beach, now 7-0, will visit winless St. James next week. North Myrtle Beach (6-1) has a week off before hosting Marlboro County.
MB — Jermani Green 94 kick return (Card kick)
MB — Blocked punt for safety
MB — Keyonte Sessions 38 run (Card kick)
NMB — Ronnie Bass 75 run
MB — Jaquan Chestnut 20 pass from Lawson Cribb (kick failed)
MB — Sessions 46 fumble return (Austin Riggs kick)
NMB — T.J. Gore 4 run (Andrew Smith kick)
NMB — Smith 46 field goal
NMB — Kered Class 3 run (Smith kick)
MB — Sessions 3 run (Riggs kick)
MB — Toronto King 3 run (Riggs kick)
Rushing: NMB: Kered Class 10-49, Ronnie Bass 13-141, T.J. Gore 10-71, Tyler Gore 1-(-3); MB: Keyonte Sessions 18-119, Jermani Green 6-19, Toronto King 7-22, Lawson Cribb 1-2.
Passing: NMB: Bass 12-23-0-151; MB: Cribb 23-35-1-169.
Receiving: NMB: Reece Finch 5-52, Tyler Gore 2-24, Kered Class 2-19, Naseem Harrison 1-5, Dondre Thompson 2-51; MB: Green 5-3, Sessions 2-21, Marcus Grissett 1-3, Daron Finkley 7-45, Will Vereen 5-65, King 1-(-5), Jaquan Chestnut 2-37.