Myrtle Beach’s showdown with Wilson didn’t start the way most of the Seahawks’ region games have this season.
But it ended with the same result.
The Seahawks (8-0, 4-0 region) came from behind to beat the Tigers 43-30 Thursday night and clinch the region championship. With the victory, Myrtle Beach also earns a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, meaning they have two guaranteed home playoff games and potentially more.
“There was definitely a playoff atmosphere tonight,” quarterback Luke Doty said. “We’ve been in this situation before. .… We just rallied around each other, settled down and came out and got the win.”
The victory was Myrtle Beach’s 13thstraight dating back to last season. All of those wins have been by double digits.
But early in the contest, the reigning 4A state champions struggled with Wilson’s aggressive passing attack.
Three minutes into the game, the Tigers got on the board with a 30-yard field goal. After the Seahawks’ first possession ended in a punt, Wilson worked down the field and extended the lead to 10-0 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from QB Zayshaun Rice to Jabori Eagleton.
The Seahawks finally got on the board with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter when Doty scored on a six-yard keeper.
But the Tigers responded quickly. On the first play of the second quarter, Rice found wideout Jakobe Quillen for a 65-yard TD.
Midway through the second quarter, the Seahawk offense again trimmed the lead to 17-14 with a three-yard touchdown run from Xayvion Knox.
However, the Tiger offense again drove the field and Quillen snagged his second TD with just over a minute to play in the half.
After two quarters, Myrtle Beach trailed 24-14.
“Our coach always preaches to us to be as a team and play as one. We didn’t do that in the in the first half,” said defensive back Tre Baker. “Coming out second half, we made a big deal to rally together.”
Baker played a key role in the Seahawks taking control in the third quarter.
After Doty hit wideout Ryan Burch with a 27-yard TD pass to pull the Seahawks within three points, Baker picked off Rice.
On the next play, Doty found receiver Tommy Riga to give Myrtle Beach a 28-24 lead with three minutes to go in the quarter.
Both teams turned the ball over late in the third, Wilson on a fumble and Myrtle Beach with an interception. But neither team found the scoreboard again until the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks put together a long drive, then opted to go for it on 4th-and-10 from the Wilson 30. That’s when Doty found Rayshad Feaster, who scampered for a 20-yard gain. Knox scored his second touchdown on the next play to extend the Myrtle Beach lead to 35-24.
Yet the Tigers refused to back down and narrowed the margin to 35-30 with about four minutes to go in the game. The Tigers’ defense then forced a punt from the Seahawks and got the ball back on their own 10 with a minute left in the contest.
That’s when Myrtle Beach’s defense iced the game. Knowing the Tigers would be going to the air, linebacker Kenny Byrd picked off Rice and ran it back for a touchdown. Riga caught the two-point conversion for the final margin.
“[Coach] told us, ‘Just push through adversity,’” Riga said. “That’s how we win ballgames.”
Next week, the Seahawks will face North Myrtle Beach in their final region challenge before the playoffs. Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said he’s hoping to get some of his injured players back soon, including star wideout JJ Jones.
Despite his team’s early difficulties Thursday, Wilson said he’s proud of the way the group responded.
“This is going to be huge for us moving forward in the playoffs,” he said. “Coming on the road in a hostile environment, down in the first half, battled back, handled adversity and getting the win. Just really proud of our guys. I think this will be a great learning tool.”