About 4 feet separated Myrtle Beach’s victory over Socastee from going the other way.
The Braves, following a 21-play drive that ate up more than two-thirds of the final quarter, missed a 24-yard field goal just right in the closing seconds, preserving the Seahawks’ 23-22 victory Friday at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
“I think it was a game of huge momentum swings,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “We had the momentum [in the first half]. In the second half, they had the momentum. I was proud of our defense. We get them in a situation where they have to kick.”
Myrtle Beach ran its winning streak to 11 games – dating back to last season – with the victory. But had it not been for one big fourth-quarter play, the streak may have ended. The Seahawks had amassed just 26 yards of second-half offense when Drayton Arnold finally connected with Kyle Belack for a 43-yard strike with about nine-and-half minutes remaining.
One play later, tailback Brandon Sinclair, who was contained throughout most of the evening, went over the top of his offensive line for a 1-yard touchdown run.
It put the Seahawks ahead.
Socastee took over with 8:57 to go in the game at its own 27-yard line and put together a drive that had the Braves feeling good about their chances. It opened with 19 consecutive runs, and Socastee converted two fourth downs in the process.
The Braves, who trailed 16-0 at halftime, just missed an opportunity to upset the No. 1 team in Class AAA. However, coach Doug Illing said his team displayed something big in the process.
“It shows they have a heart as big as this stadium,” Illing said. “A lot of teams would have folded at halftime and said ‘We’re not going to come back.’ It showed the character and the determination of our kids.
“We won every aspect of the game except the final score.”
Wilson said the Braves, who lost a regular-season game for the first time since Oct. 14, 2011 (a string of 25 straight victories), should immediately be considered contenders for the Region VI-AAAA title.
Socastee certainly has the weapons. Against Myrtle Beach, fullback Angelo Sauter had 37 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jordan Hodge rushed for 68 and a score. And tailback Keyon Clora – who otherwise didn’t do much – ran for a nine-yard touchdown while Sauter was out with cramps.
The Braves’ defense also picked off Arnold twice and held Sinclair to just five yards.
Because of all that, the Seahawks know they escaped with one.
Myrtle Beach, which forced Socastee to punt on its opening three drives, put up its first points of the night on the second punt when Keyonte Sessions returned it 92 yards for the touchdown. The Seahawks added a 30-yard Sean Huggins field goal two series later.
Senior Kelton Greene’s one-handed interception return then increased the Myrtle Beach lead to 16-0 at the end of the first quarter. Socastee’s defense continued to make stops, allowing the offense to get back into it.
After Arnold’s second interception of the game, Socastee used a 12-play, run-only drive to take the lead 22-16 early in the fourth.
Myrtle Beach got Arnold’s long pass to Belack and Sinclair’s touchdown run less than a minute later.
“It could have been a good game, and it was a good game,” said Greene, who also had three receptions for 39 yards. “All we had to do is listen to coach Wilson and do the little things right.”
Said Wilson: “With us, we’re playing good in spurts. We’ve got to sustain those spurts.”
MB - Keyonte Sessions 92 punt return (Sean Huggins kick)
MB - Huggins 30 FG
MB - Kelton Greene 38 INT return (PAT blocked)
SOC - Jordan Hodge 12 run (Braxton Elvis kick)
SOC - Angelo Sauter 1 run (Elvis kick)
SOC - Keyon Clora 9 run (2-point conv.)
MB - Brandon Sinclair 1 run (Huggins kick)
Socastee: Angelo Sauter 37-172; Jordan Hodge 17-68. Myrtle Beach: Brandon Sinclair 9-5; Drayton Arnold 3-6.
Socastee: Hodge 1-6-1, 12 yards. Myrtle Beach: Arnold 11-24-2, 162 yards.
Socasteee: Max Kjosa 1-12. Myrtle Beach: Kelton Greene 3-39; Kyle Belack 3-60; Malik Waring 1-20; C.J. Finkley 3-28; Malik Waring 1-20.