A year ago, Darius Hough decided the only bright lights he was going to play under were those in a gym.
On Friday, he showed why Mickey Wilson and the rest of the Myrtle Beach program is thrilled he ultimately changed his mind and elected to return to the gridiron.
Hough, a senior receiver playing just his third football game since he was a sophomore at Gray Collegiate, caught four touchdown passes in the Seahawks’ 43-28 nationally televised victory over Carolina Forest in front of approximately 5,100 fans at Panther Stadium.
“I found the extra strength to go on and battle adversity,” Hough said. “We’ve got plenty of weapons on offense. I try to help the best I can. Eventually your time is going to come.”
Hough, who moved to Myrtle Beach from the Midlands in the summer of 2018, put his stamp on a game that was about as hyped as any recent non-region contest in Horry County history. The game feed was carried by the Stadium Network, and at least 25 different members of the media were in house — in addition to the swelling crowd that started filing in 90 minutes before kickoff.
And yet, with all of that going on, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound basketball standout proved to be a heck of a football talent, too.
“What a great a story,” Wilson said. “He got some bad advice from some people who told him he shouldn’t play football. He came to me at the end of the school year and said ‘I want to play football.’ He has worked his tail off and I’m just so proud of him.”
Hough’s four touchdown receptions came between the 4:14 mark of the second quarter and the final 31 seconds of the third. That’s four touchdowns inside of 16 minutes of game time.
In that span, Myrtle Beach went from trailing by 11 points to leading by 22.
Luke Doty obviously had quite a bit to do with that.
The University of South Carolina commit finished the game 18-of-28 with an interception and five touchdown passes — the four to Hough and a fourth-quarter strike to J.J. Jones. He rebounded from a slow start to compete 15 of his final 20 attempts.
“It prepares us for big-time playoff football,” he said of Friday’s environment. “They had a big crowd. We had a big crowd. That’s going to pay off for us down the road. [Against Carolina Forest] we just shut out all of the noise.”
Of course, Doty doing what he did in a bigger game is becoming old hat. In his last eight games, dating back to the start of the 2018 playoffs, Doty has accounted for 28 touchdowns.
The last five came after it appeared that Carolina Forest was better prepared for the crowd.
The Panthers jumped out to a 14-3 lead after quarterback Mason Garcia rushed for a second-quarter touchdown and then Raquon Brown added one of his own. Two first-half turnovers prevented Carolina Forest from expanding its lead more while Myrtle Beach went to top 35 points for the eighth straight game.
“That’s something we talk about religiously, playing perfect plays and not worrying about the scoreboard,” Panthers coach Marc Morris said. “Our defense really played well 85 percent of the time. But next thing you know they’re putting up some points.”
Carolina Forest did prevent Myrtle Beach from running it off its own field, courtesy of Garcia’s play-making ability. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns — a second scoring run and long pass to Josh Murphy — made it a one-score game and allowed him to finish with 184 yards passing and another 98 rushing.
On the ensuing drive, though, Doty hit Jones for what would end up being the clinching score.
It made sure that Hough’s career night would count toward a win. Given that he had caught just two passes in the team’s first two games, and the fact that he was purely a basketball player not all that long ago, he certainly took advantage of his moment to shine.