After being away from the gridiron for more than three weeks, some rust was to be expected for both Conway and Socastee in their Week 7 matchup on Saturday. A slow start with seven combined first half points gave way to a furious finish, as Conway came back in the fourth quarter to stun Socastee 27-26 to pick up its first win of the season.
Socastee (1-3, 0-1 Region 6-5A) built a 20-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, using a balanced attack of rushers Kenney Solomon and Christian Inman, who combined for 173 yards on the ground. The Braves looked to be in position to walk out of The Backyard with a solid region win, until Conway quarterback Daquinton Grady came alive, leading his team to three touchdowns in the final quarter to steal a victory in a game the Tigers (1-4, 1-0 Region 6-5A) led for just 29 seconds.
“When you’re 0-4, you haven’t experienced winning,” said Conway coach Carlton Terry. “Most of the guys have experienced winning in this program, but when you get beat over and over again, sometimes you expect to lose. … They came out and fought hard. I feel bad for Socastee …”
In the first half, Terry’s team came close to impacting the scoreboard on many occasions, but couldn’t muster enough to punch in the ball from the red zone. Both teams lacked crisp execution, which was expected coming off the three-week hiatus from football because of Hurricane Florence. Socastee’s Doug Illing said the time away from the game especially hurt the development of his squad.
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“We’re a young team, and we’re still growing. We missed out on those two games, and we needed to grow coming into regional play,” he said. “We need to play. We’ll get better from this game, there’s no question. This team will bounce back and be a better football team next week.”
In the second half, a switch was flipped for both teams and a footrace to the end zone followed a pedestrian 7-0 Socastee lead built in the first half. Socastee built its 20-7 lead on a Seth McKinney-to-Carson Stout connection in the second quarter, an Inman 2-yard scamper in the third quarter and another McKinney-to-Stout connection, this one from 71-yards, early in the fourth. Conway’s early score came on an 8-yard run by Tate Finklea late in the third quarter.
From there, it was Grady’s show.
“During halftime, as a coaching staff, we made adjustments and they paid dividends,” Terry said. “(We) just wanted to make things more simple for Daquinton, and he played a great game. He played hurt there at the end and showed a lot of resiliency.”
Grady found the end zone three times in the game’s final quarter, firing two passes and running for a score. His 5-yard scamper with 29 seconds on the clock came following a hard hit late in the fourth quarter, which he was able to overcome to take a zone-read play to tie the game at 26. A Will Smith extra point gave Conway its first lead of the game.
“I hate to lose, so I felt like if I stepped up, my teammates would follow me and it would be downhill from there,” Grady said. “I was taught never to give up, so even when the scoreboard was against us and they (Socastee) were ahead, I knew that we could turn it around. I just wanted to keep fighting for my team and not let them down.”
Now that the Tigers have a positive result from a game, they’re ready to roll with the momentum into a late-season charge toward the Class 5A playoffs.
“It feels good to have gotten that first win, that kind of puts momentum back on our side,” Grady said. “Now, we have to continue to win by coming to practice and competing harder so that we can get to the playoffs and hopefully go far in the playoffs.”
For Socastee, the final result stings, but the effort on the field is something Illing and his staff can build on for continued development.
“We had a lot of opportunities down there close and we didn’t cash in,” Illing said on his team’s miscues. “(Conway) made more plays tonight, our kids hung in there, fought strong and gave us all they had. It comes down to making plays, and when you’ve got opportunities, you’ve got to take advantage of them.”
Conway will look to create a winning streak next week as they play at region foe South Florence, while Socastee will host West Florence.
SOC – Seth McKinney 3-yard pass to Carson Stout (Segui Mendoza kick good) 5:03
SOC – Christian Inman 2-yard run (Mendonza kick) 7:31
CON – Tate Finklea 8-yard run (Will Smith kick good) 00:29
SOC – McKinney 71-yard pass to Stout (kick failed) 9:48
CON – Daquinton Grady 20-yard pass to Chris DeWitt (Smith kick good) 9:11
SOC – McKinney 17-yard pass to Khaleg Scoggins (2-point conversion failed) 7:32
CON – Grady 52-yard pass to Quancey Bennett (kick failed) 7:04
CON – Grady 5-yard run (Smith kick good) 00:29
Individual Stat Leaders
Passing: SOC – McKinney 8-21-184-3-1. CON – Grady 14-27-178-2-0.
Rushing: SOC – Kenney Solomon 19-86. CON – Tate Finklea 12-63 TD.
Receiving: SOC – Stout 3-93 2TD. CON – Xavier Kinlaw 8-68.
Interceptions: SOC – None. CON – 2