In previous meetings, Myrtle Beach and Hartsville have matched up as two of the best teams in their classification, with championship aspirations for both teams.
If that remains true, a clear separation has occurred between the programs, as Myrtle Beach easily dispatched Hartsville 42-21 on Friday.
The unanimous No. 1 team in Class 4A Seahawks (5-0, 1-0 Region 6-4A) scored on each of their five first half possessions and built a 35-7 halftime lead. An ultra-precise Luke Doty kept the Seahawk offense humming to the tune of 177 yards passing, 56 rushing yards and a pair of touchdown passes in the opening two quarters. Even his poorly thrown balls went for scores, evident by a 41-yard floater that JJ Jones turned into a score.
The first half was the kind of game coaches and players dream of, playing a tough region rival at home and scoring seemingly at will.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re continuing to grow and get better,” said Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson. “We played good in spurts tonight and we’ve just got to be able to do that for four quarters. We kind of let our foot off the gas in the second half, but we’ve got to continue to grow and get better from that.”
In the second half, Hartsville’s defense came to play, stopping Myrtle Beach on three straight drives to slow down the momentum. The Red Foxes couldn’t mount a comeback, but showed the promise of a young team.
“I’m proud of our guys for getting a first region win against a tough opponent,” said Wilson. “It was the opening game of region play in an extremely tough region. We’ve got four teams ranked in the top 10 of the class from this region. Last year we had two tough battles with Hartsville and our guys knew that they will bring a great football team that is still gaining experience.”
Aside from Doty’s first-half heroics, Xayvion Knox had a standout game for the Seahawks, scoring three touchdowns on the ground to cap off an 18th birthday week to remember.
“I just wanted to go out and do what my team needed me to tonight,” Knox said of stepping into emergency duty as a running back. “I knew in practice that (Rayshad Feaster) wasn’t 100 percent and my name might be called to run the ball so I was ready. It was great to perform well in an important game to open region play, we wanted to continue to play well and get better late in the season.”
Knox compiled 68 rushing yards on a dozen carries with the three scores before succumbing to cramping that knocked him out of the game. By that point, the Seahawks had the game well in hand and were looking to run out the clock.
“We had some guys step up tonight for their teammates and do a great job,” Wilson said. “Xayvion Knox and Jaylen Sparkman are not traditional running backs in our system but really showed that they were willing to do what it takes to get a win. They both played really well tonight.”
Hartsville flashed toughness and big play ability on the night, but struggled to find the bruising and electric rushing attack it had a season ago. Quarterback Owen Taylor hit on a couple of long pass plays and running back J’shawn Anderson scampered for a long run in the second half to set up a scoring drive. In the end, the Red Foxes fell to the crisp, balanced attack of the Seahawks yet again.
Next week, Myrtle Beach will host Darlington at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
HART 0 7 7 7 – 21
MB 21 14 0 7 – 42
MB – Xayvion Knox 1-yard run (Sullivan Hardin kick good) 8:48
MB – Luke Doty 41-yard pass to JJ Jones (Hardin kick) 6:01
MB – Doty 34-yard pass to Jaylen Sparkman (Hardin kick) 00:24
MB – Knox 3-yard run (Hardin kick) 9:01
HART - Darian McMillan 1-yard run (LeLand Saxton kick good) 3:36
MB – Knox 4-yard run (Hardin kick) 00:49
HART – Owen Taylor 12-yard run (Saxton kick) 3:53
MB – Doty 52-yard pass to Jones (Hardin kick) 6:33
HART – Taylor 54-yard pass to Jaivon Hough (Saxton kick) 3:14
HART – Owen Taylor 9-18-145-1-2
MB – Luke Doty 16-25-254-3-1
HART - J’shawn Anderson 19-146
MB – Luke Doty 7-89
HART – Jaivon Hough 5-69 TD
MB – JJ Jones 6-144 2TD