Hartsville showed why it’s billed as the top team in Class 4A during a Friday night romp over North Myrtle Beach, 35-12.
The Red Foxes (7-0, 3-0 Region 6-4A) started the game slowly but built a 28-0 lead in the third quarter to bury North Myrtle Beach (5-2, 1-2 Region 6-4A). Hartsville was helped by a trio of first-half turnovers, two interceptions and a fumble on a handoff, which handed great field position to an already confident offense.
“You can’t give a great team even more chances to score on you,” said North Myrtle Beach head coach Matt Reel. “We knew coming into this game that it would take just about a perfect performance by our guys to win this game, but when you hand them short fields and easy opportunities, you have no chance. They are too well-coached and execute exactly what they want to do.”
The matchup between Class 4A top-10 programs, according to the S.C. Prep Media Football poll with Hartsville ranked first and North Myrtle Beach sixth, began as a sloppy affair, with turnovers and penalties halting big drives. Hartsville marched down the field on its opening possession, only to fumble the ball into the end zone for a North Myrtle Beach touchback. The Chiefs then took the ball and had a 63-yard touchdown called back due to an illegal forward pass penalty. The quarter’s only score would come off a North Myrtle Beach turnover, an interception of Cason McClendon, which gave the Red Foxes the ball in the red zone, where quarterback Tiyon Evans would rush for a 12-yard score.
“We really set up our offense with an opportunistic defense tonight,” said Hartsville coach Jeff Calabrese. “When we can do that, play with a short field, and mix the run and pass, we are able to really open up our playbook on offense. Our defense can feed us and fly around to make plays.”
In the second quarter, Hartsville delivered what amounted to a knockout punch, putting up a pair of touchdown passes from Evans to JD Pendergrass, who was able to outposition and outjump the North Myrtle Beach defenders on both plays.
North Myrtle Beach mustered just 74 yards of offense in the first half, with McClendon having only 12 passing yards in the first 24 minutes.
“Their defense really has some great athletes that know where they are supposed to be and what they’re supposed to do,” Reel said. “Cason didn’t have a lot of time to process what he was seeing, and he had to get rid of the ball quickly. We would have liked to stretch the field some, to open up more of our rushing attack, but we never got our offense into a good rhythm in the first half.”
While they moved the ball more successfully in the second half, the Chiefs never found the rhythm or an opportunity to climb back into the game. After receiving the kickoff to begin the third quarter, North Myrtle Beach went three-and-out, using a McClendon pooch punt to give Hartsville the ball at its own 44-yard line. On the next play, Evans took off for a 56-yard touchdown run, weaving through the defense with no issue.
North Myrtle Beach would find success in a triple option game, faking a dive to a running back with McClendon and another back running a speed option on the boundary. Using the rushing attack, the Chiefs found the end zone on a McClendon quarterback sneak. Each team would add another score in the final quarter, in a game that was long since decided.
“I’m proud of my guys for working hard and giving it all they had tonight. We just saw why that team is ranked No. 1 in 4A – they are a good football team and an excellent coaching staff,” Reel said. “We’ve got some tough games coming up, against Myrtle Beach and Marlboro County, so we have to put this one behind us and get ready to go again.”
For Hartsville and Calabrese, playing North Myrtle Beach was another test in another successful season.
“That team gave us a great game tonight,” he said. “They are one of the best front-sevens that we will face, and they really made it tough on us up front. Coming into a hostile environment, playing a good team that is extremely well coached; this gave us a taste of playoff football.”
Next week, a traditional rivalry week in the football schedule, Hartsville will play Darlington, while North Myrtle Beach will play at Myrtle Beach.
HAR – 7 14 7 7 – 35
NMB – 0 0 6 6 – 12
HAR – Tiyon Evans 12-yard run (Caleb Caldwell kick good) 1:14
HAR – Evans 7-yard pass to JD Pendergrass (Caldwell kick) 9:21
HAR – Evans 14-yard pass to Pendergrass (Caldwell kick) 8:26
HAR – Evans 56-yard run (Caldwell kick) 9:53
NMB – Cason McClendon 1-yard run (2-point conversion failed) 2:48
HAR – Evans 28-yard pass to Deetric Miller (Caldwell kick) 6:44
NMB – McClendon 5-yard pass to Derrien Holmes (2-point conversion failed) 1:07
Individual Stat Leaders
Passing: HAR – Tiyon Evans 9-18-139-3-0. NMB – Cason McClendon 14-24-135-1-2.
Rushing: HAR – Dariyan Pendergrass 8-95. NMB – Zyon Belle 14-76.
Receiving: HAR – JD Pendergrass 5-87 2TD. NMB – Derrien Holmes 4-22 TD.
Interceptions: HAR – Zavaric Hines 1-13. NMB – None