Mickey Wilson didn’t have to hold his breath like he did a week ago.
The Myrtle Beach coach watched as his team pulled away late to defeat Carolina Forest 52-35 at Panther Stadium, moving the Seahawks to 4-0 – a major turnaround around from last year’s 1-3 start.
“Our spurts were a little longer,” Wilson said. “We’re playing well. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. But I’m not so sure I’d want us to be there now. November and December is our goal. I think we took a step forward.”
At least offensively.
Myrtle Beach quarterback Drayton Arnold threw his second five-touchdown game of the year en route to a 14-of-27, 254-yard night. He didn’t attempt a pass in the third quarter and only five in the second half altogether.
Malik Waring caught six of those passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns, and teammate Brandon Sinclair bounced back from his 4-yard performance in last week’s narrow victory over Socastee by rushing for 163 yards and a score while putting up another 76 yards and a touchdown receiving.
Even with all that, though, the game didn’t swing into Myrtle Beach’s favor for good until late in the third quarter. Despite running just five offensive plays in the quarter, the Seahawks scored 17 points – all of which came in a span of less than 4 minutes.
It was the type of efficiency Myrtle Beach couldn’t muster during a first half in which the team started five consecutive drives on the Carolina Forest side of the field. The Seahawks led 28-7 at half, but they potentially that many more points on the field. Carolina Forest, via two short punts, two fumbles and a turnover on downs, gave Myrtle Beach those five short fields.
“You can’t make those mistakes early, give them the ball on that end of the field,” Panthers coach Marc Morris said. “Mickey and them do a great job; it ain’t no secret. When you go in and play them, you need to play great football. Did we do that sometimes? Absolutely.”
The positives were there for Carolina Forest.
Morris’ new scheme led Brunson to a 370-yard, two-touchdown evening. More than 240 of those yards came in the third quarter alone, when the Panthers scored 21 points.
Receiver James Long roared to nine receptions for 207 yards. And while sophomore tailback Dyverse Simmons was held under the 100-yard mark for the first time in his short, four-game varsity career, he did have three touchdown runs.
“That’s going to get us through to come conference time and get us in the playoffs,” Morris said. “That’s what it’s really all about. All these non-conference games are practice games to get your butt in the playoffs.”
Myrtle Beach isn’t taking its 4-0 start for granted. The Seahawks lost to Carolina Forest last season for the first time in nine match-ups against the Panthers.
But getting pushed for the third straight week could do Myrtle Beach some good.
“It was definitely an improvement,” Arnold said. “This is only Week 4. … We continue to get better. That’s what we need to do.”
MB - Kelton Greene 36 rec from Drayton Arnold (Sean Huggins kick)
CF - Dyverse Simmons 4 run (Chez Hardy kick)
MB - Malik Waring 19 rec from Arnold (Huggins kick)
MB - Waring 5 rec from Arnold (Huggins kick)
MB - Brandon Sinclair 11 rec from Arnold (Huggins)
CF - James Long 15 rec from Will Brunson (Hardy kick)
MB - Jaden Grayer 54 INT return (Huggins kick)
MB - Huggins 32 FG
CF - Simmons 7 run (Hardy kick)
MB - Sinclair 64 run (Huggins kick)
CF - Simmons 2 run (Hardy kick)
MB - Waring 36 rec from Arnold (Huggins kick)
CF - Woods 12 rec from Brunson (Hardy kick)
MB - Brandon Sinclair 28-163; CF - Dyverse Simmons 14-60; Will Brunson 10-78
MB - Drayton Arnold 14-27-0, 254 yards; CF - Brunson 22-42-1, 370 yards
MB - Malik Waring 6-105; Kelton Greene 3-55; Sinclair 3-76; CF - James Long 9-207; Victory Woods 9-86