Myrtle Beach High senior quarterback Mitch Campbell waited more than three years for his chance to start a game for the Seahawks. On Friday night, he almost waited until it was too late to take advantage of the opportunity.
Playing in place of fourth-year starter Everett Golson, who injured his left foot and left hand in last week's loss to Byrnes, Campbell led the Seahawks on an 80-yard touchdown drive in the final three minutes of the game for a thrilling 35-31 comeback victory over West Florence.
"I've always dreamed of having to go 80 yards late in a game to win it," said Campbell, who threw for 384 yards and three touchdown passes in his first career start. "I wasn't nervous because I've been preparing and all the guys had confidence in me and I have confidence in them."
Campbell hit Jaquan Wilson for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 54 seconds remaining for the game-winner. Wilson carried three defenders into the end zone with him for the score.
Myrtle Beach's Octavius Thomas made a late interception to seal the victory as the Seahawks (2-1) narrowly avoided a second straight defeat.
"I don't know if it was a hangover from Byrnes or if we were missing (Golson) or what, but we didn't play well in the first half," said Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson. "Mitch did a good job and settled down in the second half. He showed real poise there at the end for a guy who hasn't been in that situation before."
The Knights got on the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter when McKenzie broke free for a 78-yard touchdown run. He caught a 22-yard TD pass from Josh Davidson on the next series and the Seahawks found themselves in the unusual position of being down 14-0.
Myrtle Beach responded with a long drive capped by Daiquone Ford's 24-yard touchdown run and Campbell threw his first touchdown pass as a starter - an 18-yarder to Wilson - to tie it up with only 35 seconds remaining before halftime.
But West Florence got a big return on the kickoff and Davidson connected with Eddie Frye for a 26-yard TD and a 21-14 lead at the break.
The Knights extended their lead back to 14 points on Kevin Driggers' interception and 22-yard return for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
But Campbell led the Seahawks on an 80-yard march that was capped by a 10-yard TD strike to Jerrod Jackson.
The Myrtle Beach defense came up with a big stop on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter to set the Seahawks up for the tying score. Donte Sumpter caught a 17-yard TD pass three plays later and it was 28-28 with 7:47 remaining.
For the second straight week, a special teams mistake did in the Seahawks at the end. A fumbled punt return gave West Florence the ball with good field position and Alex Howell booted a 34-yarder that nearly proved to be the game-winner.
After leading the Seahawks on back-to-back touchdown drives to tie the game at 28 in the fourth quarter, Campbell was intercepted for the second time of the night. He wasn't sure if he would get another shot.
"The defense came up big and made some stops to get us the ball back," Campbell said. "The offense did their job there at the end and I saw (Wilson) wide open. He did a great job of getting in the end zone."
Campbell is likely to start again next week as Golson recovers, but he liked what he saw from his backup on Friday.
"He did a great job," said Golson. "I was never worried about him even when we were down. I knew he could do it."