How do you know when you have a pretty good football team? When you beat your biggest rival by 32 points and one of the first words out of your mouth to describe your team's performance is "sloppy."
That was the case for defending Class 4-A champion Myrtle Beach in Friday's 41-9 win over visiting Conway in the annual Battle for the Victory Bell rivalry. Despite dominating the game from start to finish, the No. 1 Seahawks were less than pleased with their play.
"I'm proud of us for getting the win, but that was too sloppy," said Myrtle Beach coach and Conway grad Mickey Wilson, whose Seahawks have now won 10 of the last 12 in the series. "We've got to do better than that."
In a game that saw the referees throw more flags (32) than the starting quarterbacks threw completions (29) or teams combined to make first downs (31), Myrtle Beach managed to control it from the opening kickoff. Senior Xayvion Knox capped their first drive on a 7-yard touchdown run and followed it up with an interception to halt Conway's opening possession.
Myrtle Beach (4-0) mounted a 94-yard march that was aided by a pair of questionable pass interference penalties. Rayshad Feaster's 15-yard TD scamper gave Myrtle Beach a 14-0 edge at the end of the first quarter.
Following a missed field goal by the Tigers (0-4), Myrtle Beach senior quarterback Luke Doty connected with Darius Hough for an 80-yard TD strike on the next play. Doty hit Ben Herriott for a 38-yard TD pass to put the Seahawks up 27-0.
Conway finally found the end zone when quarterback Carlton Terry Jr. connected with Xavier Kinlaw on a 72-yard TD, but Doty responded with his third TD pass of the game to JJ Jones for an 8-yard score just before the half to make it 34-7 at intermission.
"We will take it, but it was definitely sloppy," said Doty, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns. "It's great to win, especially against a big rival like Conway, but we also expect to play at a high level."
Defense and special teams stole the spotlight in the second half. Conway blocked a Myrtle Beach punt out of the end zone for a safety, and Myrtle Beach's Kenny Byrd scored the Seahawks only points in the second half on a 78-yard interception return.
That was Terry's third pick of the night. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 153 yards and led the Tigers on some sustained drives that repeatedly fell short. Conway's offense continued to struggle as its nine points of production is a season-high.
Both teams enter their respective region schedules next week as Region 6-5A foe West Florence visits Conway. Myrtle Beach plays host to reigning Region 6-4A champion Hartsville in a rematch of last year's lower state final.
"I really like our football team, but we have to get better," Wilson said. "You don't want to be playing your best football right now, and we're not, but hopefully we will be by November."