Matt Reel knew about Wilson’s dynamic connection on offense and made it a key for his defense on Friday night.
Unfortunately for the North Myrtle Beach (5-1, 1-1 Region 6-4A) head coach, Wilson’s (7-0, 2-0 Region 6-4A) Zayshaun Rice to Jakobe Quillen connection was good for 12 catches, 165 yards, and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 43-21 triumph over the Chiefs.
“We flat out didn’t execute tonight,” Reel said. “We didn’t have a good week of practice this week and that showed by our performance on the field. Hat’s off to Wilson, they played a heck of a game and really did whatever they wanted in the passing game. We knew (Rice) was a good player and they put up some 50-50 balls that their 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 (listed at 6-foot-3) receiver (Quillen) was able to come down with.”
Wilson came out of the gate strong on defense, which fed into its offense taking command of the contest. On its first offensive drive, the Tigers sputtered, but its defense put North Myrtle Beach in a tight spot and gave the ball back to the offense around midfield. Eight plays later, Rice connected with Quillen for his first of five total touchdown passes. Another defensive stop, another touchdown by the terrific tandem, then a fumble on a Chief punt attempt and a two-point conversion put Wilson up 22-0 in the first quarter.
“We wanted to start fast and limit their big plays,” said Wilson coach Derek Howard on his defensive game plan. “We wanted our offense to come in and put pressure of their offense to see if they could keep up scoring with us. Our defense played excellent, they were flying around and showed their athleticism that they have.”
The athleticism that Howard hoped for was on full display, as North Myrtle Beach quarterback Cameron Freeman rarely had time to set his feet and throw, falling victim to pressure in his face and from the blind side repeatedly in the first half.
“There wasn’t a lot working tonight, credit Wilson for that,” Reel said. “Tonight, from top to bottom, Wilson was better than us. That’s the coaches, players, the water boy; everyone associated with Wilson’s football program did a better job than North Myrtle Beach tonight.”
Howard and Reel are friends off the field and closely watch their counterpart’s results. Tonight, Reel saw what the Wilson program has become in a few short years.
“I don’t like losing, that’s not something I want to ever do,” Reel said. “But Derek is one of my good friends and I know how hard he has worked to get his team to this level. I’m proud of him as a friend, even though I have to wear this one for a while.”
For Wilson, the dominating win over North Myrtle Beach puts the rest of Region 6 on notice.
“I think it definitely was a statement win against a quality football team,” Howard said. “I’m just really proud of our kids and the things they’ve done; they’ve bought into everything I’ve asked them for the last three years and I think they’re just reaping the benefits of a lot of hard work.”
Last season, North Myrtle Beach fell to Wilson in the regular-season matchup, only to come back and defeat the Tigers in the playoffs. For now, Reel and his staff are focused on this year, where their players will face a struggling Darlington team on the road next week.
“Tonight, for the first time we looked like a young team,” Reel said. “I don’t know why we picked tonight or why it happened the way it did, but that’s something we have to get figured out and get corrected. It starts on the practice field and in the film room.”
WIL 22 7 7 7 - 43
NMB 0 7 0 14 – 21
WIL – Zayshaun Rice 13-yard pass to Jakobe Quillen (Vraj Patel kick) 5:03
WIL – Rice 37-yard pass to Quillen (Patel kick) 1:35
WIL – JoCorien Groover fumble recovery in end zone (Rice pass to Ja’Trvious Sherrills for 2-point conversion) 00:15
WIL – Rice 12-yard pass to Quillen (Patel kick) 6:16
NMB – Cameron Freeman 35-yard pass to Zyer Belle (Zane Smith kick good) 1:55
WIL – Rice 2-yard pass to Yavin Smith (Patel kick) 7:35
NMB – Freeman 2-yard run (Smith kick) 9:11
WIL – Rice 33-yard pass to Quillen (Patel kick) 6:09
NMB – Freeman 63-yard pass to Malik Livingston (Smith kick) 00:57
WIL – Zayshaun Rice 27-34-336-5-1
NMB – Cameron Freeman 10-19-172-2-1
WIL – Zayshaun Rice 7-47
NMB – Messiah Gore 4-42
WIL – Jakobe Quillen – 12-165 4TDs
NMB – Zyer Belle – 5-97 TD