Myrtle Beach walked into a hostile environment at Florence Memorial Stadium on Thursday and walked out as Region 6-4A champions.
The Seahawks (8-0, 3-0 Region) defeated a persistent and dangerous Wilson squad 43-30 behind the playmaking of Xayvion Knox and Luke Doty. Knox rushed for 62 tough yards and a pair of scores, filling in for a banged up Rayshad Feaster, who still led the Seahawks in receiving totals despite missing portions of the game.
Doty combined for more than 300 yards of offense and rallied a Myrtle Beach team that faced its first halftime deficit in region play this season.
“I’m so proud of my team for the way they were able to handle everything tonight,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “This was a tough environment and a good team on the other side and we started out a little bit sloppy, but we found a way to regroup and came away with a good win. Facing a situation like this was important for us, because we will probably have to face situations like this in the playoffs.”
Wilson came out with a game plan to pound the Myrtle Beach defense and make the Seahawks’ offense put together sustained drives rather than chunk plays to put points on the board. They succeeded for much of the first half to build a 24-14 advantage at the break.
“We wanted to get off to a quick start and stop them from getting off to the quick starts that they’re accustomed to by holding onto the ball,” said Wilson coach Derek Howard. “We needed to make them have to possess the ball and earn it play after play. We were trying to quicken the clock by holding the ball for as long as we could.”
In the first half, the familiar connection of Zayshaun Rice and Jakobe Quillen paced the Tigers’ attack, just as they did against North Myrtle Beach two weeks ago. Wilson scored on passing plays of 28, 65, and 14 yards in the first half, while Myrtle Beach could only muster a pair of rushing touchdowns.
In the third quarter, Myrtle Beach showed why it’s the unanimous top team in Class 4A, putting together scoring drives and shutting Wilson down.
“That’s the way we want to play every opponent,” Knox said of his team’s second half. “We want to run our plays on offense and have them work to get big gains and touchdowns, then on defense we want to fly around and hit them hard. We did that more in the second half after we got over the slow start we had to the game.”
Despite not having two of his top targets in Adam Randall and JJ Jones, Doty brought the passing game to life in the third quarter, completing six passes with two going for touchdowns to reserve receivers.
“A lot of the success we saw in the passing game is a credit to Luke,” Wilson said. “He kept after it even though some things weren’t working early on and he didn’t have a bunch of his playmakers out there. He stuck with it and came up huge for us. That’s what we expect of him every game and he delivers over and over.”
Along with Doty’s successes, the Myrtle Beach defense brought the thunder in the second half, forcing three turnovers to give the offense great field position and scoring a touchdown of its own on a 14-yard interception return by Kenny Bird.
With the win, the Seahawks secured a region championship, something they didn’t do a year ago when they won the Class 4A state title.
“This means a lot to us,” Knox said. “This is something we have been working for all summer and this season. We wanted to win the region and be playing our best football at the end of the season. We want to keep this rolling hopefully to Columbia.”
As playoff time approaches for both teams, Myrtle Beach is looking to regain its health as a number of key players are banged up. With just one regular season game left for the Seahawks, against rival North Myrtle Beach, having the region wrapped up is a welcomed achievement for Wilson.
“We handled adversity tonight and showed that we have what it takes to win big games, especially on the road,” Wilson said. “We responded great and this will give us a great learning tool as coaches to refer back to as we get into those tough playoff matchups. I’m glad we were able to get this one against a tough team and find a way to gut it out.”
Myrtle Beach – 7 7 14 15 – 43
Wilson – 10 14 0 6 – 30
WIL – Vraj Patel 31-yard FG 9:08
WIL – Zayshaun Rice 28-yard pass to Jabori Eagleton (Patel kick) 5:59
MB – Luke Doty 7-yard run (Sullivan Hardin kick) 2:06
WIL – Rice 65-yard pass to Jakobe Quillen (Patel kick) 11:49
MB – Xayvion Knox 4-yard run (Hardin kick) 6:08
WIL – Rice 14-yard pass to Quillen (Patel kick) 1:07
MB – Doty 20-yard pass to Ryan Burch (Hardin kick) 4:41
MB – Doty 43-yard pass to Tommy Riga (Hardin kick) 3:06
MB – Knox 10-yard run (Hardin kick) 8:09
WIL – Taveon Johnson 11-yard run (2-point try failed) 4:04
MB – Kenny Bird 14-yard interception return (Doty pass to Burch) 00:50
MB – Luke Doty 21-32-257-2-1
WIL – Zayshaun Rice 17-27-224-3-2
MB – Xayvion Knox 10-62 2TDs
WIL – Zayshaun Rice 8-81
MB – Rayshad Feaster 7-107
WIL – Jakobe Quillen – 7-108 2 TDs