North Myrtle Beach had one goal coming into the first round of the Class 4A playoffs: go 1-0 on the week.
The Chiefs (11-0) did that convincingly, beating Colleton County 59-36, behind six total touchdowns from junior quarterback Cason McClendon and nearly 400 rushing yards as a team.
“I’m proud of our guys’ effort and the emotion they played with,” said North Myrtle Beach head coach Matt Reel. “Our offensive line really played physical and sound tonight. When we do that, we’ve got a great chance to be successful on the field. We preached all week about running the football and protecting our quarterback because we knew they (Colleton County) would change defense a lot to try and confuse our guys. They answered the challenge tonight and we will need them to keep doing it in these playoffs.”
Colleton County (4-7) saw its season come to an end to the powerhouse Chief team, but put up quite a fight to test the resolve of the No. 2 ranked team in Class 4A.
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“They are a competitive team and were really good,” said senior Kered Class following his team’s first round victory. “We thought we were going to blow them out, but they played really tough and we really had to come together to beat them. It took everything we had to finish them off. We have to work even harder to win next week, we can’t be happy with a first round win.”
The game began in a bit of a whirlwind for North Myrtle Beach, with Colleton County jumping out to a 7-0 lead on the first offensive play – a 70 yard bomb from Craig Grant to Devon Farmer. The Chiefs would settle in, scoring the game’s next three touchdowns, all from the right arm of McClendon. Colleton County would make the game 21-14 with another Grant passing touchdown, before Class and the Chiefs closed the first half on a 10-0 run to make it 31-14 at the break.
“Our guys moved the ball well all night and we were able to take advantage of some short fields, especially in the first half,” Reel said. “We’ve got a lot to tighten up and a lot to fix, but I know our guys are going to play as hard as they can play every time we’re out.”
The second half began with a North Myrtle Beach defensive score, a 23 yard fumble recovery by Rahsaan Vereen. Vereen was penalized for diving backwards into the end zone, which was coupled with an out-of-bounds kickoff to force the Chiefs to kick from their own 20 yard line. Taking advantage of this was Tristian Nieves, who returned the kickoff 82 yards for a score.
“We’ve just got to be smarter when some situations come up and make sure we handle them the right way,” Reel said. “We made some boneheaded decisions, some things that were uncharacteristic of this team. That’s something we’re going to look at on film and get fixed for next week. Those are the things that can lose you a game.”
In the end, the running of Class and throwing of McClendon led to a lopsided Chief victory and a date with Crestwood in the second round of the playoffs. Crestwood defeated Chapin 28-14 to earn the right to play North Myrtle Beach.
North Myrtle Beach led Colleton County 21-14 early in the second quarter, then scored 17 unanswered points to the midpoint of the third quarter to build a 38-14 advantage. With the big lead, North Myrtle Beach was able to pin its ears back defensively and turn Colleton County into a passing team. Four sacks and two interceptions later, the Chiefs walked away with a victory.
Kered Class: Class had a huge game on offense, piling up 254 yards on the night with a touchdown. He broke big run after big run to move the Chiefs into scoring position and keep the offense balanced.
Cason McClendon: Scoring six touchdowns in the playoffs isn’t usually as easy as McClendon made it look – half of his passing attempts resulted in scores and his one rushing touchdown came on a quarterback sneak.
Craig Grant: Aside from looking the part of a next level quarterback at 6’3” 220 pounds, Grant made play after play to keep Colleton County within range of North Myrtle Beach. He threw for 383 yards and ran for another 100 in the game.
By the numbers
Rushing the ball for nearly 400 yards on the night, North Myrtle Beach used its physicality and size to push around a porous Colleton County defense.
Cason McClendon fed off the running game of the Chiefs to end drives with points – five times passing for a touchdown and rushing for another.
The two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense, 581 by North Myrtle Beach and 503 by Colleton County. That’s plenty to keep a defensive coordinator up all night.
They said it
“We made a lot of mistakes, but we kept our heads up and our composure to bounce back and make the plays we had to win the game. We’ve been working to get to this point, 11-0, but this isn’t where we want to stay. We know it is going to take even more next week to get to 12-0, we have to work harder and be better.” – Kered Class, North Myrtle Beach running back
“We accomplished 1-0, and that was what we set out to do. We’ve got to be a lot better in a lot more situations, we let some things slide and played really undisciplined tonight, which goes against everything we believe in.” - North Myrtle Beach head coach Matt Reel
“We’re going to go to work in the morning looking at film, we’re going to feed our guys and love on them a little bit – it’s going to be tough love after this game.” - Reel
CC – Craig Grant 70 yard pass to Devon Farmer (Campbell Pryor kick good) 11:46
NMB – Cason McClendon 63 yard pass to Tyler Gore (Zane Smith kick good) 9:45
NMB – McClendon 9 yard pass to Tyron Stockdale (Smith kick) 3:20
NMB – McClendon 23 yard pass to Derion Conyers (Smith kick) 10:47
CC – Grant 15 yard pass to Jovon Williams (Pryor kick) 9:51
NMB – Kered Class 10 yard run (Smith kick) 4:31
NMB – Smith 43 yard field goal 0:00
NMB – Rahsaan Vereen 23 yard fumble recovery (Smith kick) 8:28
CC – Tristian Nieves 82 yard kick return (Grant pass to Nieves for 2 point conversion) 8:14
NMB – McClendon 1 yard run (Smith kick) 10:58
CC – Grant 10 yard run (2 point conversion failed) 8:37
NMB – McClendon 15 yard pass to Stockdale (Smith kick) 8:20
NMB – McClendon 29 yard pass to Naseem Harrison (Smith kick) 6:23
CC – Grant 32 yard pass to Nieves (Trakell Murray pass to Nieves for 2 point conversion) 2:45
Rushing: CC – Craig Grant 16-100 TD NMB – Kered Class 21-254 TD.
Passing: CC – Grant 25-41-383-3-2 NMB - Cason McClendon 10-14-194-5-0.
Receiving: CC – Dei’aja Ferguson 10-114 NMB – Tyler Gore 1-63 TD.