Six Socastee turnovers helped turn a developing blowout into an uncomfortably close contest against West Brunswick on Friday night at Braves Stadium.
Senior running back Delano Walters was responsible for three of those on fumbles, and he might have been questioning how much faith the Braves coaching staff still had in him by the fourth quarter.
But he was in the game when it mattered, and it was Walters’ 45-yard touchdown run with less than 9 minutes remaining that gave the Braves a two-score cushion as they improved to 2-0 with a 44-30 win over West Brunswick.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him and sometimes you have those nights, you know,” Braves coach Doug Illing said. “You try to show him support and show him confidence, and hopefully down the road that’s going to help him.”
Walters’ run was the Braves’ only score of the second half after they posted 36 by halftime, as he also had a 29-yard receiving touchdown and an 8-yard running TD.
In the first half alone, Braves senior quarterback Hunter Renfrow ran for it on an 80-yard touchdown and threw the 29-yard TD; fullback Kyle Smith had two short rushing touchdowns; and Walters had two scores.
Socastee couldn’t have gotten off to a much shakier start. The Braves turned the ball over twice in the opening 1:30 and West Brunswick (1-1) converted one of the turnovers into an 8-0 lead 24 seconds into the game.
Socastee posted its 36 points in the opening two quarters despite three first-half turnovers to take a 19-point lead into halftime.
Despite just one touchdown in the second half, the Braves have scored 92 points in their opening two games, including their 48-20 win over Carolina Forest in the opener last week.
West Brunswick, a winner over Green Sea Floyds last week in a weather-shortened game, jumped on the mistake-prone Braves early. Walters fumbled the Braves’ first play from scrimmage and Tavon Stanley scored on a 16-yard run to open the scoring. The Trojans also intercepted a pass near their own goal line less than a minute later.
But Socastee settled down for a while and Smith got the Braves on the board with a 3-yard run. Renfrow’s 80-yard burst down the left sideline and two-point conversion throw gave the Braves a 15-8 lead, and following a 26-yard field goal by the Trojans’ Hunter Ashburn, the Braves scored three of the next four touchdowns before halftime on Walters’ two scores and 1-yard TD run by Smith with 20 seconds remaining in the half.
West Brunswick grabbed momentum early in the second half, as Stanley capped the opening drive of the half with a touchdown run on fourth-and-goal at the 2 to pull the Trojans within 13, and Socastee punted after three plays on its first possession.
The Braves defense attempted to stem the tide, but turnovers kept the Trojans in the game.
The Trojans attempted a fake punt after gaining little in three plays but it was snuffed out and failed, and following Walters’ third fumble of the game at the West Brunswick 10, a sack by Luke West on third down forced a punt and the Braves took possession on the Trojans’ 35. A 32-yard run by Renfrow sprung on a big block by Maxwell Kjosa moved the ball to the 3, but Buck Bacot fumbled at the goal line and West Brunswick took possession at the 20.
West Brunswick pulled off a fake punt on fourth-and-10 at its own 34 with a 12-yard pass from Ijaime Daniels to Daquan Burgess to continue the ensuing drive, and Socastee penalties further contributed to a drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown reception by Quinlyn Moore and pulled the Trojans within six points. But Walters’ final TD provided the 14-point margin of victory.
“We gave them way too many chances tonight,” Illing said. “I know our defense gave up 30, but they had six more possessions the defense has to go out there, and that’s tough.”
WB–Tavon Stanley 16 run (pass complete)
S–Kyle Smith 3 run (Matt Trimby kick)
S–Hunter Renfrow 80 run (Renfrow pass to Jiavony Rendon)
WB–Hunter Ashburn 26 FG
S–Delano Walters 8 run (Trimby kick)
S–Walters 29 pass from Renfrow (Trimby kick)
WB–Quinlyn Moore 21 pass from Dylan Darguzas (kick blocked)
S–Smith 1 run (Trimby kick)
WB–Stanley 2 run (kick failed)
WB–Moore 19 pass from Darguzas (Ashburn kick)
S–Walters 45 run (Renfrow rush)