With the star quarterback out of the game and his team losing to one of the last qualifiers for the Class 4A state playoffs, Xayvion Knox had the type of performance he’ll be able to tell his grandchildren about.
The Myrtle Beach tailback rushed for seven touchdowns — six after halftime — and 254 yards to propel the Seahawks to a 63-31 victory over Lakewood on Friday at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.
“That was a big one. With Luke being out, somebody had to step up,” Knox said. “I’m willing to do whatever the team needs. Whatever was working it, keep doing it.”
Luke, in this case, is University of South Carolina commitment Luke Doty, who suffered an injury to his throwing hand that required him to be placed in a splint to immobilize his thumb. The Shrine Bowl selection had rushed for a touchdown less than a minute into the game and completed three of his first seven pass attempts for 61 yards. It was unclear when exactly the injury occurred, although he was sacked on the team’s second series. Two plays later, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. He completed only one of his last five attempts.
The extent of his injury was not immediately known, although his father, Bobby, did say there was no break or dislocation. The senior will be evaluated Saturday morning, and probably again on Monday, before anything can be known for certain.
“He’s going first thing in the morning to see what’s going on,” Seahawks coach Mickey Wilson said. “Trainers felt like he needed to be pulled. Hopefully we’ll get a good diagnosis, but we’ll just kind of see what happens. Obviously he’s a great quarterback. If he were to be out, it wouldn’t be the same for us. I think [back-up quarterback] Ryan Burger has a tremendous amount of potential. It does change what we do offensively. But we’ll figure it out.”
With all of that happening in real time — and during the second half of a playoff game, no less — the normally pass-happy Myrtle Beach coach went to his Rhino package, essentially a heavy-set backfield that allows whomever is taking the snap to operate behind 10 blockers.
Knox ran it to perfection.
After rushing for 21 yards and a score out of a standard set in the opening half, when Lakewood was winning 25-21 over the state’s unanimous No. 1 team, Knox turned the game on its head in the second. Less than five minutes into the third quarter, he went 39 yards to put the Seahawks ahead. All of 1:28 later, after a quick Gators’ punt and a long Burger pass to Darius Hough, he turned Rhino into seven more points. Less than three minutes later, he did it from 12 yards away.
Four minutes into the fourth quarter, 4 yards out. One minute and 41 seconds after that, a 10-yarder.
The capper, a 99-yard scamper with 2:08 left in the game when the Seahawks were just trying to run out the clock.
That’s six touchdowns in 16 minutes and 22 seconds of game time, or roughly one every 163 seconds.
“Xay is such a good running back,” Wilson said of the tailback who needed just 17 carries to do all that damage. “He’s very patient and when he sees a hole, he’s got great explosion. When he sees a crack, he can take it the distance. I’m so proud of him. He kind of put us on his back and kind of carried us at a time when we needed it.”
The need for the in-game audible was shades of 2014, when starting quarterback Drayton Arnold — coming off a title of his own from the previous season — saw his playoffs cut short due to a thumb injury. The Seahawks eventually fell in the third round.
If they are going to make it that far this year, it will mean getting past region rival North Myrtle Beach. The Seahawks have defeated Matt Reel’s team three straight times, including in the playoffs a year ago when Region VI-4A turned the playoffs into its personal stomping ground.
Four of the five playoff teams from the grouping won in the opening round Friday. And while Myrtle Beach eventually did its part to remain alive and make this one look the way it did behind Knox, the Seahawks understand nothing is guaranteed going forward.
They saw how quickly everything could change.
“You [consider] Luke being out, and we probably played as bad a first half as we could possibly play and still won the ball game 63-31,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot to be said about that.”