The North Myrtle Beach offense has clearly defined goals for each game: have a balanced attack, don’t turn the ball over and score over 40 points per game. Against Loris on Friday, it accomplished two of the three, routing the Lions (1-1) 41-14 in the first home game of the year for the Chiefs (2-0).
North Myrtle Beach came out on a mission from the opening kickoff, pinning Loris back on its own 15-yard line to start the game and then allowing only seven yards on the drive before forcing a punt. The Chiefs would march right down the field to stake an early 7-0 lead, which would never be matched by Loris.
“We were just doing what we do tonight. I thought last week we did a lot of uncharacteristic things, dropping some balls, not blocking like we know we can, those kind of things,” said North Myrtle Beach coach Matt Reel. “Tonight, we got back to what we know we can do and the level we know we can execute at. We were able to instill that confidence in our guys and they came out and made plays for us.”
The confidence of the Chief offense ran over to the defense, which kept up the pressure and intensity on Loris’ passing game. Quarterback Gage Conner finished the game 13-35 for 142 yards and two touchdowns, but faced constant pressure on his throws and never looked comfortable in the pocket. North Myrtle Beach forced five punts from Loris and stopped the Lions on three conversion attempts on 4th down.
“Great job by North Myrtle Beach and their staff, they came in with a great game plan and did a great job in executing it tonight,” surmised Loris coach Jamie Snider. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot, giving them the ball on the five or 10, and you can’t do that against a great football team. You can’t make it easy on them with field position and penalties like we did tonight.”
On more than one occasion, an errant snap or poor exchange led to Conner and his teammates scrambling backwards to jump on a fumble, losing huge chunks of yardage each time. North Myrtle Beach was able to capitalize with scoring drives of two plays for seven yards and one play for 21 yards.
“Our defense was lights out tonight,” Reel said. “They gave our offense short fields and made plays for us all night. We gave up our points on a couple of busts (in coverage) and we know we can’t let those things happen. We were two plays from pitching a shutout tonight and that’s what we preach to our guys every week... They stepped up and made plays for us to get the win.”
After starting the season with an unusually tough statistical night against Conway, Chief quarterback Cason McClendon returned to form against Loris, running the option game to perfection and hitting on big passing plays to punish the Lion defense. His coach, Reel, said the key to scoring 40 points per game lies in the hands of his senior signal caller, who guided the Chiefs to a perfect 6-for-6 in red zone attempts and had five different players score touchdowns.
“We’ve definitely got to be balanced in what we do,” Reel said. “Sometimes, the passing game is working better and sometimes we are breaking off chunk runs, but no matter what we can’t abandon anything in our playbook. We’ve got some young guys that we’re trying to get experience, so right now we’re working to put them in space, get them the ball, and let them make some plays for us.”
For Loris, dropping the contest to North Myrtle Beach hurts, but the effort his team put in throughout the game gives Snider hope moving forward.
“I was proud that our guys found a way to score at the end, instead of quitting and giving up. That gives us something to build on for next week – the effort they gave to put up that last eight points,” the veteran coach said. “We’ve got to grow up, play better, and do better in all phases. (This result) shows us a lot of areas for improvement.”
Next week, North Myrtle Beach will host West Brunswick, while Loris will travel to South Columbus.
NMB – Zyon Belle 1-yard run (Zane Smith kick good) 8:07
Lor – Gage Conner 15-yard pass to Jahrique Isaiah (Josh Causey kick blocked) 2:55
NMB – Naseem Harrison 1-yard run (Smith kick) 11:41
NMB – Smith 28-yard field goal 5:10
NMB – Cason McClendon 11-yard pass to Derrien Holmes (Smith kick) 9:58
NMB – McClendon 7-yard pass to Dawson Hardee (Smith kick) 8:20
NMB – Smith 35-yard field goal 11:55
NMB – Nick Vereen 21-yard run (Smith kick) 9:53
Lor – Conner 35-yard pass to Isaiah (Connor pass to Isaiah for 2-point conversion) 6:22
Rushing: Waderek Hemingway 20-104. NMB – Ramsey Lewis 10-71.
Passing: Lor – Gage Conner 13-35-142-2-0. NMB – Cason McClendon – 10-17-141-2-1.
Receiving: Lor – Jahrique Isaiah 11-122 2TD. NMB – Derrien Holmes 4-68 TD.
Interceptions: Lor – Jevade Isaiah 1-5. NMB – None