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Carolina Forest's David Legette scores as the Panthers beat Cane Bay High School 42-7 in the first round of the 5A playoffs on Thursday. Carolina Forest will play at home next week. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

By the third carry of the night, David Legette had eclipsed a significant milestone, as those early runs pushed him beyond 1,000 rushing yards on the season.

The Carolina Forest senior tailback was nowhere near done.

Legette rushed for 172 yards and four touchdowns to carry his team to an easy 42-7 victory over Cane Bay on Thursday in the first round of the Class 5A football playoffs. 

“For the last three years, David’s been a huge part of our offense,” coach Marc Morris said. “Mason [Garcia] gets a lot of the credit and he should — he’s a great football player. But Mason understands that if we’re good, we’re a 50-50 offense.

“He came out tonight and those weren’t easy yards. We hadn’t seen on film anyone who had run the ball on them.”

Legette did, and made it look easy despite some less-than-steller grass under his feet, thanks to some rain earlier in the day. He had touchdown runs of 27 and 18 yards in the first quarter, 44 and 27 in the second and needed just 11 carries to reach his final yardage tally.

During the second half, he was relegated to pacing the sideline, as Morris elected for other ball carriers late.

By that point, why not?

The Panthers’ starter had already put up that kind of night, and behind an offensive line that was down yet another starter in E.J. Herbert, who suffered a leg injury last week at Conway.

“We’re just a special team, from the first starter to the last man up,” Legette said. “We’re just a special team all the way around. … We knew at the beginning of the season that if we put in the work, this would be the result.”

Legette’s late-season boon has been easily noticeable, as Friday was his fifth-consecutive 100-yard game. It was also the fifth time this year he’s had at least three touchdowns in a single game. The most-recent outburst came despite not playing a single snap after halftime.

Meanwhile, there was another stout showing from the Panthers’ defense. It was the sixth time this season that it held an opponent to single digits. By the time the run-heavy Cobras got on the board, Carolina Forest was already up four touchdowns.

“When you play an offense like that that you don’t see all the time? And on a short week and one day was in the gym? That was a lot of hard work for our kids,” Morris said.

The collective effort on both sides of the ball ensured that the first on-campus playoff game as a member of the state’s largest class looked the way it did. The Panthers’ 9-1 record also matches the program’s single-season high, with the 2004 team doing it with three more games.

Morris was much more concerned with what’s ahead of him, though.

On Friday, he’ll head to the Midlands to watch the West Ashley-River Bluff game knowing the winner there will come to his field next week for a second round game.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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