A strong running game and timely defense led North Myrtle Beach to a 42-28 victory over Crestwood in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday night.
The Chiefs (12-0) scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to pull away from a pesky Crestwood (6-6) squad, though the teams would go back-and-forth in the second half, with the game as close as seven points.
The Chiefs started the game riding the hot hand in the ground game, Kered Class. The senior started the scoring in the game on a seven-yard run, capping off an eight-play, 60-yard drive. Crestwood would tie the game on a 4th and 12 pass from Anthony Bradley to Montrell White good for 31 yards. Class would run off two straight touchdowns, one from 23 yards and another from 30, combined with a Cason McClendon touchdown pass to Derion Conyers, to build a 28-7 lead. Bradley and White would connect on another long pass, this time 62 yards, to make the halftime score 28-14 in favor of North Myrtle Beach.
“We’ve got to tighten some things up, the same thing I’ve been saying for the past couple of weeks,” said North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel. “We’re playing hard, our kids are doing what we ask of them and, effort wise, are right there. We just have to tighten some things and get them cleaned up. We had some busts in our coverage that we saw go for 14 points. When you’re in the playoffs, every play is do-or-die and we’ve got to fix it.”
The fix came on the defensive side of the ball, where the Chiefs clamped down on Bradley’s scrambling and big play ability. Crestwood’s touchdown in the third quarter came on a nine-play, 82 yard drive that made the quick strike Knights into a methodical offense. The teams then traded touchdowns, the Chiefs on a McClendon pass to Tyrone Stockdale and the Knights on an Anthony Bradley pass to Maleeke Bradley. North Myrtle Beach then put the game out of reach on an eight-play, 64 yard drive to go up 14 points with just over a minute to play. Ramsey Lewis, a sophomore, scored the final touchdown after replacing an injured Class for the entire second half.
“Kered (Class) is a great football player and his production is hard to replace,” Reel said. “We have a couple of really good backs that we have confidence in and we turned to those guys in the second half. We brought up a couple of sophomores, one that you saw a good bit tonight (Lewis) and T.J. Gore is an all-zone player who has been banged up and is finally getting back healthy. You saw what he can do tonight, especially in the second half when we needed some tough runs.”
On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive lineman Kwame Livingston made his presence felt with 2.5 sacks and constant pressure on Crestwood.
“It took a group effort, with everybody doing their job and staying in their pass rush lanes,” he said of clamping down on Bradley. “We rely on those guys in the secondary to lock down the passing game and that makes our job in the trenches easier. As long as we have some time, we’ll get back there and sack the quarterback.”
With the win, North Myrtle Beach sets a school record for wins in a season and advances to its furthest point in the playoffs in school history, both things that Reel is not prepared to hang his hat on.
“It’s right where we want to be at and where we expected to be,” he said. “Now, it’s time to take things above where we’ve been. This week is another first for us – first time beating Crestwood and now going this far in the playoffs. One thing that isn’t a first is getting back to work tomorrow morning.”
North Myrtle Beach will travel to play Berkeley next Friday, Nov. 17.
Building a three score lead in the first half usually allows a team to coast to a win, but North Myrtle Beach had to earn it in the second half without its leading rusher. On their final drive, the Chiefs marched 64 yards on eight plays, with a 4th down conversion on the drive, to seal the game on a Ramsey Lewis touchdown run.
Kered Class: While only playing in the first half, Class rushed for a team-high 120 yards and three touchdowns.
Kwame Livingston: Sacking Crestwood’s Anthony Bradley 2.5 times wasn’t enough for Livingston, who also played on the offensive line to help bring home the win.
Anthony Bradley: His all-white uniform will need to be washed more than once after the beating Bradley took, but time-and-time again the junior made big plays to keep Crestwood in the game, passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
By the numbers
Crestwood rolled up 466 yards of offense in the losing effort, compared to 415 by North Myrtle Beach.
North Myrtle Beach had two rushers over 100 yards, Kered Class with 120 and T.J. Gore with 108.
With the win, North Myrtle Beach has its 12th win, the most in school history.
They said it
“We knew it would be a dogfight tonight, everybody looks at the rankings and records, but that stuff goes out the window in the playoffs. I’m proud of my guys for finding a way to win tonight.” - North Myrtle Beach head coach Matt Reel
“We have to go hard in practice each day and never let off the gas pedal. We can’t be satisfied with just getting this far, we’ve got so much more we want to do this season.” – Kwame Livingston, North Myrtle Beach defensive lineman
NMB – Kered Class 7 yard run (Zane Smith kick good) 9:21
CRE – Anthony Bradley 31 yard pass to Montrell White (Gavyn Zimmerman kick good) 4:09
NMB – Class 23 yard run (Smith kick) 11:51
NMB – Class 30 yard run (Smith kick) 9:10
NMB – Cason McClendon 29 yard pass to Derion Conyers (Smith kick) 3:40
CRE – Bradley 62 yard pass to White (Zimmerman kick) 2:01
CRE – Maleeke Bradley 10 yard run (Zimmerman kick) 6:10
NMB – McClendon 23 yard pass to Tyrone Stockdale (Smith kick) 7:56
CRE – A. Bradley 17 yard pass to M. Bradley (Zimmerman kick) 5:26
NMB – Ramsey Lewis 3 yard run (Smith kick) 1:06
Rushing: CRE – Anthony Bradley 12-53 NMB – Kered Class 11-120 3TD.
Passing: CRE – A. Bradley 11-25-265-3-1 NMB - Cason McClendon 12-21-146-2-0.
Receiving: CRE – Montrell White 5-205 2TD NMB – Tyrone Stockdale 4-63 TD.