The Loris defense set the tone early and the offense quickly followed suit as the Lions rolled to a 45-7 victory over Waccamaw in Region VIII-AA play Friday night.
Loris took the opening kickoff and drove to the Waccamaw 12, but fumbled the ball away to give Waccamaw its first possession at its 2-yard line. On the Warriors' first play, quarterback Nick Davis looked for running room to the right but was met with a violent hit from Loris senior linebacker Denzel Strayhorne. Two more plays led to minus 3 yards for Waccamaw and forced a punt from its end zone, and Loris quickly converted the good field position into a Phillip Johnson touchdown reception.
The outline for the rest of the evening was set.
"They were physical. I take my hat off to [Loris] coach [Jimmy] Longerbeam and that staff," Waccamaw first-year coach Tyronne Davis said. "They are a good team, real good football team. They are very physical, and we knew that coming into the game. We tried some different things, tried to get some guys in the open field just to see how we could play against them and they just overpowered us early."
Loris limited the Warriors to 74 yards of offense and the Lions threw for an uncharacteristic three touchdown passes.
"[Being physical] is kind of what we try to do. We are trying to be as physical as we can and our kids have done a real good job of that so far this year," Longerbeam said.
The only suspense during the second half was whether Loris (6-1, 2-0 Region VIII-AA) could get its third shutout of the season. A fumbled snap by the Lions' reserves with 5:34 left answered that question as Waccamaw junior defensive end Jaquon Rogers picked up the loose ball and returned it 50 yards to set the final score.
"We always try to get a shutout, and that is one of our goals, but those things happen," Longerbeam said. "Those kids work hard in practice and we just want to get them some experience."
Waccamaw (3-4, 0-2) lost its most explosive offensive weapon midway through the second quarter when freshman running back Jalen Simmons left the field for unspecified reasons. He did not return.
"All I can tell you is [Simmons'] shoulder was hurt when he came off in the first half, and I haven't talked to him since then," Davis said. "We'll find out something shortly."
Loris quarterback Kentrez Hilton, who had two touchdown passes coming into the game, threw three in this one - two to Johnson and one to senior Dominique Richburg. Senior running back Denzel Strayhorne had a 7-yard scoring run, senior defensive lineman Mike Gause returned an interception 44 yards for a score and senior running back R.J. Brown had a 32-yard scoring run to round out the Lions' scoring.
The aerial attack by the Lions was far from the norm but something the coaching staff wanted to work on.
"We just feel we are going to have to be able to throw the ball some more because people are going to be putting eight, nine guys in the box, so we will have to be able to throw it some," said Longerbeam, who noted the Lions hadn't thrown three touchdown passes in a game in his four years as head coach. "I thought Kentrez did a real good job throwing the ball and Phillip Johnson played tonight the way he is capable of playing."
Brown had a team-high 118 rushing yards for Loris on 15 carries.
Waccamaw junior quarterback/running back Nick Davis managed 16 yards rushing on 18 carries to lead Waccamaw.