Home playoff games haven’t been a frequent part of North Myrtle Beach football recently.
The Chiefs let their first one in eight years slip through their fingers.
Midland Valley took advantage of key turnovers in the final 25 minutes of play and rode a solid Dre Car running game to a 35-21 win in the first round of the postseason.
“We had four turnovers and 10-plus penalties,” first-year coach Blair Hardin said after the loss. “This late in the ball game, you need to be playing your best football. We were getting there, but we took a step back. You can’t have turnovers in the postseason. You can’t.”
Midland Valley returned a pair of the Chiefs’ four interceptions for touchdowns, including one just before halftime and another in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the Mustangs’ victory.
Meanwhile, Carr rushed for 78 of his 117 yards in the second half, with nearly all of his second-half total coming on one drive in the fourth quarter. With Midland Valley nursing a 21-14 lead and 10 minutes to play, the offense took over at its own 32-yard line.
After a quarterback scramble from Daniel Carr, Dre Carr took over. He carried the ball seven consecutive times for a total of 64 yards and a touchdown that put coach Rick Knight’s team up two scores with about 6 minutes to go.
“We were able to run it a little bit and change things up. Then we had a couple breaks go our way, as opposed to the first half where I felt we gave them two touchdowns,” Knight said. “It was very frustrating. We’ve got the guy who runs the slowest 40 in America roughing the kicker. And then you’ve got an all-state receiver dropping a punt.
“But at the bottom of our sheet, every day, it says ‘Don’t panic.’”
Knight was referring to two plays the led to North Myrtle Beach’s two first-half scores. The first – a 25-yard Ronnie Bass touchdown run – came after Midland Valley was dinged for a running-into-the-punter penalty on a fourth-and-four.
Then in the second quarter, North-South receiver Kameron Brown muffed a punt inside the Mustangs’ 20. North Myrtle Beach recovered the fumble, and scored three plays later on Kendrick Furness’ six-yard pass to Colby Gore.
The two would hook up for a 25-yard score in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Mustangs advantage.
“We came a long ways. We did everything we needed to do to get to this point,” Gore said. “I don’t see it as a back slide. We adapted to new things.”
For North Myrtle Beach, the loss didn’t discount what the Chiefs did to earn the home game.
In beating rival Myrtle Beach in the regular-season finale, Hardin’s team created a three-way tie for second place in Region VII-AAA. The Chiefs were eventually bumped up to the No. 2 spot in the region over Georgetown – courtesy of the division’s constitutional point system.
The first home playoff game since 2006, though, started to go downhill even before the midway point. A Bass throw was batted at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Xavier Leaphart. The linebacker returned it 72 yards for the score. As it turned out, that big play carried into the second half.
“It hurt. It hurt bad,” Hardin said. “Those two three-and-outs coming out of the half hurt. Turnovers killed us just before half and in the second half.”
68714—35North Myrtle Beach7707—21
MV - Dre Carr 26 run (kick failed)
NMB - Ronnie Bass 25 run (Christian Buis kick)
NMB - Colby Gore 6 reception from Kendrick Furness (Buis kick)
MV - Xavier Leaphart 72 INT return (2 pt conv.)
MV - Kameron Brown 33 rec from Daniel Carr (Thomas McCord kick)
MV - Dre Carr 2 run (McCord kick)
MV - Skylar Brown 50-yard int return (McCord kick)
NMB - Gore 25 reception from Furness (Buis kick)
Midland Valley — Dre Carr 15-117; Daniel Carr 9-37; North Myrtle Beach — Ronnie Bass 14-70; Cullin Mitchell 13-44
Midland Valley —Daniel Carr 7-16-0, 98 yards; North Myrtle Beach — Ronnie Bass 8-15-3, 47 yards; Kendrick Furness 8-12-1, 100 yards
Midland Valley —Kameron Brown 5-79; North Myrtle Beach — Colby Gore 5-47; Maurice Finch 4-42