HANAHAN | Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson made a gutsy fourth-down call deep in his own end late in the third quarter that jumpstarted a rally from a 20-point deficit.
It was nearly the spark to a continuation of Myrtle Beach’s season.
But Hanahan coach Charlie Patterson countered with his own bold fourth-down call with time running out that ended the comeback, and with it the Seahawks’ season.
A 25-yard completion from quarterback Anthony Smalls to Mario Gates on a fourth-and-7 from the Myrtle Beach 35 with 1:29 remaining allowed Hanahan to run out the clock in a 34-26 win in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
“The last time we punted we dropped the snap, and they’ve had a lot of plays this year where they’ve blocked punts and they put a lot of pressure on the kicker,” Patterson said. “We just decided if we didn’t get it there they still had to go about 65 yards. if we could get it the game was going to be over, so we decided to keep it in our quarterback and best receiver’s hands and they made the play.”
The fourth-down conversion was the last of several big plays by the Hawks (11-1), who scored on three plays longer than 50 yards. “The kids made plays,” Patterson said.
A big play on defense in the fourth quarter, although controversial, also played a big role in Hanahan’s victory. A fumbled snap on a punt attempt with 6 minutes remaining gave Myrtle Beach the ball on the Hanahan 36-yard line, and the Seahawks had scored on their past two possessions to pull within 8.
Faced with a fourth-and-1 at the 27, senior receiver C.J. Cooper came in at quarterback and attempted a power sneak up the middle, but he was marked short and the Seahawks never got the ball back.
“I thought we got a bad spot down here on that fourth down,” said Wilson, whose team ended the season 10-2. “I thought we had it. I thought it was a terrible spot. It is what it is. We just didn’t get some breaks tonight that we needed.
“But I’m proud of our kids and our senior group. They came back in the second half and fought and scratched and clawed and tried to get back in it and did get back in it, we just didn’t have some breaks there at the end. It’s a tough loss.”
The Seahawks were also hurt by turnovers, as senior quarterback Tyler Keane – who had an otherwise stellar game going 27 for 38 for 336 yards and four touchdowns – threw three interceptions and the Seahawks also lost a fumble. Two of the interceptions were in the hands of receivers.
“We just had too many turnovers,” said C.J. Cooper, who had eight catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns in his final high school game. “I feel if we didn’t turn the ball over as much, we were in great field position when we had those turnovers and I think it would have changed the game. . . . I think everybody gave everything they could, it just didn’t turn in our favor.”
Hanahan scored four consecutive touchdowns in the second and third quarters to take a 27-7 lead, and held a 34-14 lead late in the third quarter.
That’s when Wilson rolled the dice and went for it on a fourth-and-13 from his own 17. Keane completed a 15-yard pass to Renard Pointer to get the first down, and went on to complete seven consecutive passes, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Starbeck on the final play of the drive.
“We just felt like we needed to go ahead and keep attacking at that point and fortunately we were able to get it and got a little momentum behind it,” Wilson said of the fourth-down conversion.
Two plays after Starbeck’s score, Dajour Wilson stripped Smalls of the ball on the Hanahan 44 and Myrtle Beach recovered, setting up an 8-yard touchdown pass from Keane to Cooper with 10 minutes remaining, pulling the Seahawks within 8. But the failed fourth-down attempt at the Hanahan 27 was their next and last possession.
“We turned the ball over a little bit and that ended up biting us in the butt where they got some big plays there in the second half,” Wilson said.
Hawks junior Terrell Green made quite a return from elbow surgery after the third game of the season. The 6-foot-6 Green caught a pair of 77-yard touchdown passes in the third quarter to help Hanahan open up a 34-14 lead.
The game didn’t start so well for Green, however. He failed to come down with a lofted pass in the end zone in the first quarter, as 5-foot-9 Kelton Greene got position and leaped to intercept the pass to keep Hanahan off the board on its first possession.
But the Hawks capitalized on Green’s height on the second offensive play of the third quarter with a lofted pass down the left sideline against one-on-one coverage that he took 77 yards, and he took a slant 77 yards shortly thereafter.
“I felt a little bit of redemption,” Green said. “That [early interception] just made me get even more hungry. The defense gave me many, many more chances, and me and the team were able to capitalize on it. There were a couple sketchy moments but we pulled it out in the end and got the ‘W’, which is all that matters. I think this is a really, really big win. It just means a lot to all of us.”
Myrtle Beach took the opening possession of the game 81 yards in eight plays and scored on a 25-yard touchdown reception by Cooper. Keane was 4-for-4 on the opening drive for 73 yards.
Hanahan tied the game early in the second quarter on a 51-yard run on a reverse by Gates, and took the lead with just 47 seconds remaining in the first half on a 6-yard run by Smalls.
Hanahan is back in Class AAA this season after 28 years as a AA program, and beat a Seahawks team looking to reach the AAA state championship game for the fourth time in five seasons. They won state title in 2008 and ’10.
“We feel like we’re as good as anybody that’s left [in AAA],” Patterson said. “We weren’t playing their tradition, we were playing the team they brought here tonight and we felt like we could compete with them and beat them.”
MB-C.J. Cooper 25 pass from Tyler Keane (Max Huggins kick)
H-Mario Gates 51 run (Kyle Spigner kick)
H-Anthony Smalls 6 run (Spigner kick)
H-Terrell Green 77 pass from Smalls (Spigner kick)
H-Smalls 20 run (kick blocked)
MB-Trell Harrell 8 pass from Keane (Huggins kick)
H-Green 77 pass from Smalls (Spigner kick)
MB-Hunter Starbeck 10 pass from Keane (kick blocked)
MB-Cooper 8 pass from Keane (kick blocked)