Myrtle Beach has put together impressive stretches of play this season, but nothing like it exhibited in the first half Friday night at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
Despite entering the Class AAA second-round playoff game against the Seahawks with a lofty 10-1 record and high-scoring offense, Hilton Head High never stood a chance.
Myrtle Beach defeated Hilton Head 63-27 after dismantling the visitors while taking a 49-7 halftime lead.
“They took us behind the woodshed then brought us back out, then took us back behind the woodshed and brought us back out, then took us back behind the woodshed again,” Hilton Head coach DJ Payne said. “We’ve been bend but don’t break. We’ve been down six times this year, three times double digits in the third quarter, but never down 42 at the half.”
The Seahawks (9-3), who began the season 2-3 with inconsistent play, have now reeled off seven consecutive wins.
“In the beginning of the year there would be times we’d have six players doing it right and five players doing it wrong, and vice versa,” senior running back Brandon Sinclair said. “Now I feel like we’re finally putting together a full game. Everybody is going in the right direction and doing the right things and that [63-27] is the outcome when that happens.”
The big win sets up a showdown next Friday at Doug Shaw pitting two of the past three state champions. Hartsville, the undefeated top-ranked team in Class AAA, won the AAA title in 2012 and Myrtle Beach won in 2013, and Hartsville played for the title last year.
“Our goal is to peak in November and December and I feel we’re playing well right now and hopefully we’ll continue down that path,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “We’re kind of clicking on all cylinders. I’m proud of our guys. We talk about ‘advance, advance, advance’ and that’s what we’re going to do.”
In the first half alone, Myrtle Beach threw for four touchdowns, rushed for two TDs, scored on a punt return, blocked a punt, intercepted a pass, forced and recovered a fumble, had six tackles for losses including four sacks, and thwarted a fake punt attempt.
The few faults you could find from what could have been considered a perfect half of football was allowing a 65-yard kickoff return by Jestin Morrow on Hilton Head’s first touch of the game, an interception in the Hilton Head end zone on a fourth-down throw, and a missed 42-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half.
Otherwise, it was pure domination, as Myrtle Beach scored 42 consecutive points.
“They’re an extremely talented team,” Payne said.
In the first half, senior running back Brandon Sinclair went over 5,000 rushing yards in his career with 71 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. He finished with 194 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries and now has 5,163 rushing yards for his career.
“It’s exciting. It’s nice to have [5,000 yards],” Sinclair said. “That’s a milestone that I’ve been trying to reach since the beginning of the season and I’m kind of relieved in a way to finally hit it. My next goal is to beat Hartsville next week, go to Lower States and win a state championship.”
Drayton Arnold nearly reached 2,600 yards passing on the season by going 8 of 15 for 226 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. He didn’t attempt a second-half pass.
Hilton Head entered the game averaging nearly 54 points per game and among its four scores Friday were a kickoff return and two long passes against backup players. Chris Weston had an interception and broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone, and seven sacks contributed to Hilton Head gaining just 22 yards rushing on 27 carries. “Our defense was superb tonight and did an outstanding job against a very tough offense,” Wilson said.
Myrtle Beach scored on the game’s opening possession on a 30-yard Arnold pass to Keyonte Sessions, and it was immediately answered by Morrow’s kickoff return. Myrtle Beach then scored the next six touchdowns.
The scores included TDs by Elijah Rice on two consecutive touches by Myrtle Beach. He scored on a 46-yard pass on a seam route down the middle of the field, then returned a punt 25 yards for a TD, picking up the ball on a bounce as others were retreating and spinning out of a tackle for a score that gave Myrtle Beach a 35-7 lead.
Myrtle Beach’s starters on offense played the first series of the second half – resulting in a 53-yard Sinclair touchdown run – before resting. But after Hilton Head scored a pair of quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Myrtle Beach reserves to pull within 29 points, the Seahawks starters reentered midway through the final stanza and Sinclair scored on a 61-yard run on their first play.
Sinclair now has 1,648 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.
The Seahawks gave Hartsville something to consider with a wildcat power running formation featuring Sinclair in the backfield taking the snap. They employed it multiple times in the game and Sinclair scored twice in the formation, including the 53-yard third-quarter run.
MB — Keyonte Sessions 30 pass from Drayton Arnold (Matthew Card kick)
HH — Jestin Morrow 65 kickoff return (Jonathan Orr kick)
MB — Brandon Sinclair 3 run (Mitchell McCrackin kick)
MB — Sinclair 4 run (Card kick)
MB — Elijah Rice 46 pass from Arnold (McCrackin kick)
MB — Rice 25 punt return (McCrackin kick)
MB — Cortez Brown 14 pass from Arnold (McCrackin kick)
MB — Will Vereen 29 pass from Arnold (McCrackin kick)
HH — Tyler Hamilton 18 pass from Aidan Hegarty (Orr kick)
MB — Sinclair 53 run (McCrackin kick)
HH — Bryce Singleton 18 pass from Hegarty (pass failed)
HH — Singleton 63 pass from Hegarty (Orr kick)
MB — Sinclair 61 run (McCrackin kick)
▪ RUSHING: Hilton Head: P.J. Franklin 9-29, Aidan Hegarty 9-(-20), Tyler Hamilton 5-10. Myrtle Beach: Brandon Sinclair 19-194, Drayton Arnold 4-11, Maleek Smith 15-35.
▪ PASSING: Hilton Head: Hegarty 19-32-1–246. Myrtle Beach: Arnold 8-15-1–226.
▪ RECEIVING: Hilton Head: Bryce Singleton 7-197. Myrtle Beach: Elijah Rice 3-67, Cortez Brown 2-48, Sinclair 1-52, Keyonte Sessions 1-30, Will Vereen 1-29.