Everett Golson did not look very comfortable in the first half of the Class AAA state championship game Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
A dominant South Pointe defensive line featuring defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Gerald Dixon, who had a combined 46 sacks on the season entering the game, had a lot to do with that.
Golson was admittedly preoccupied with the Stallions' pass rush, and a Clowney sack on the first offensive play of the game and safety on the first possession did nothing to help him find his comfort zone.
But when the game was ultimately determined in the second half, Golson was focused on the Seahawks' second state title in three years, and he and his teammates imposed their will.
Golson threw two touchdown passes in the second half and led the Seahawks on three touchdown drives in the final 22 minutes to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit and lead the Seahawks to a 27-23 win.
"He led us down the field when we needed it and got us in the end zone," Seahawks coach Mickey Wilson said.
Golson, a senior who committed to Notre Dame on Thursday, was largely ineffective in the first half, going 9 of 19 for just 46 yards with an interception and two sacks.
In the second half, Golson was 12 of 19 for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including 9 of 12 for 81 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"I was very disappointed [at halftime] but as the leader of my team I couldn't let that show because everybody would get down," Golson said. "So I just kind of pushed through, went off to myself to try to clear my head of everything. I give it to my teammates for helping me through that. They kept uplifting me. When you have teammates like that the world is yours."
Though the Seahawks were outgained 256-187 in the game, they had a 139-67 advantage after a first half that resembled the start of last year's loss to Clinton in the state title game.
"We got in there at halftime and I said, 'Look, we look like we did against Clinton last year,'" Wilson said. "We had terrible field position, we didn't play particularly well, our body language got bad, our mentality was not great. I said let's go back out there and have a great time, let's play football, enjoy yourself and believe you can come back.
"This senior class, they're a bunch of champions, they have the heart of a champion, and they showed that in the second half."
A Jaquan Wilson 28-yard touchdown pass from Golson pulled the Seahawks within two points at 16-14 three minutes into the second half, but the Stallions pushed the advantage back to nine points when Devin Pearson hit Montay Crockett for a 21-yard touchdown down the middle with about 15 minutes to play.
Golson led the Seahawks on a 10-play, 74-yard drive early in the fourth quarter, hitting Donte Sumpter for gains of 13 and 34 yards - the second completion was down the left sideline while Golson was scrambling to his left - Dallas Goodman for a 9-yard gain and Jaquan Wilson for a 10-yard gain to the 4.
From there, Daiquone Ford ran it in for a touchdown that pulled the Seahawks within two points at 23-21.
A Devante Simmons sack of Pearson four plays later forced a fumble that Octavius Thomas recovered at the Stallions' 24. Three plays later, Golson threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Goodman at the left pylon, just over the outstretched arm of cornerback Trey Mackey, to give the Seahawks their second and final lead with 6:48 remaining.
"I knew it was coming for me," Goodman said. "It was a big-time play and we needed it, and I'm a big-time player, that's what we do. But I love these boys. We deserved this, we needed it and we took it."
The Pearson fumble was one of three turnovers forced by the Seahawks against a Stallions offense that attempted just six passes - two of which went for touchdowns - while Golson's first-half interception in the end zone was the Seahawks' only turnover.
"They outplayed us in the second half," South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll said. "Our players just didn't come out ready to play in the second half. ... But I'll tell you what, Myrtle Beach came out and played and they played hard and they played well.
"We just turned the ball over, and the inability to get first downs put our defense in too big of a bind most of the night."
The Seahawks took a 7-2 lead early in the second quarter on a 3-yard Golson pass to Wilson after Alex Holloman recovered a fumble at the South Pointe 41.
The fumble recovery came a couple plays after Kerry Chestnut blocked a punt to give Myrtle Beach possession at the Stallions' 8 but Golson threw the interception into double coverage in the end zone.
A 75-yard run by Pearson set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to JaRyan Jennings to give the Stallions a 9-7 lead, and they took a 16-7 lead into halftime following a Jennings 5-yard touchdown run with 4:13 left in the second quarter.
But Golson and his teammates came out of halftime with conviction.
"Hope and faith just kept pushing us through," Golson said. "There was never anybody who got down and was like, 'Ah, we're about to lose.' Everybody on this team kept believing we were going to win this in the fourth quarter."