On the first Friday night of the season that could be considered fall football weather, Myrtle Beach's high-flying passing attack came out a bit cold against visiting Marlboro County.
But it didn't take long for the No. 1-ranked Seahawks' senior quarterback Luke Doty and his receiving corp to catch fire en route to a 56-6 victory on Senior Night at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
Doty, a South Carolina commit and Mr. Football finalist, completed only four of his first 10 passes. But three of them went for long touchdowns of 30-plus yards to bury the Bulldogs early.
"We wanted to come out and put some points on the board early and we were able to do that," said Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson, whose Seahawks stormed out to a 28-0 first quarter lead despite some early drops and misreads.
Following an uncharacteristic three-and-out to open the game with three incompletions, Doty and his receivers found their rhythm. He hit Darius Hough for a 30-yard score and JJ Jones for a 32-yarder.
The Seahawks (7-0 overall, 3-0 region), added a rushing TD on a 4-yard run by Xayvion Knox before Doty went back to the air. He found a wide open Jaylen Sparkman on a seam route for a 35-yard TD to make it 28-0 in the first quarter.
Doty, who finished 8 of 16 for 166 yards and four TDs, hooked up with Jones again for a 14-yard TD. The defense got into the scoring act on a pick-six by Jirone Parker just before halftime for a 42-0 lead at intermission.
"Our defense is carrying us right now," said Wilson, whose team has outscored its last two opponents by a combined score of 123-6. "We're playing really good on that side of the ball."
Doty took one snap in the second half before taking a curtain call as Myrtle Beach kept the ball on the ground. Running backs Rayshad Feaster and Keltron Bessent added second-half rushing touchdowns.
The Bulldogs (1-7. 0-3 region) broke up a second straight shutout for the Myrtle Beach defense with a fourth quarter score — a 72-yard TD pass that accounted for nearly half of their offensive production.
The loudest applause during the waning minutes of a running clock came with the announcement of some surprising scores in the region, which included losses by No. 4 Wilson and No. 7 North Myrtle Beach.
The upsets give the Seahawks the upperhand in claiming the region title next week, but also served as a bit of a wake-up call heading into Thursday's showdown with Wilson at Florence Memorial Stadium.
"That just shows how tough our region is," Wilson said. "No matter who we play, we have to be ready. We have a short week to prepare this week, so our guys have to be mentally focused and ready to play."