This time around there would be no last-minute, desperate comeback for a dramatic St. James win as the Sharks fell to the Socastee Braves 24-3 Friday night at Braves Stadium.
In a game with strong playoff implications, both teams suffered numerous costly penalties, dropped passes and muffled balls. Part of the cause might have been the wet conditions. The rain held off but the field was slick at kickoff.
St. James head coach Tommy Norwood said after huddling with his players that they were definitely downcast from the loss in this year's rematch of the “Battle of 707.”
“They’re pretty down right now,” Norwood said. “We’ll come to practice on Tuesday and go from there.”
But he said the door was not closed on the Sharks making the playoffs. St. James is now 3-2 (1-1 region) and Socastee improved to 1-3 (1-1 region).
“Oh yeah,” Norwood said of the Sharks’ playoff chances. “We've got to win one of these (last) two."
Norwood didn’t make excuses for his team’s performance Friday, saying the Braves played well. “Let’s don’t take nothin’ away from them.”
He said penalties, as they have in the past for the Sharks, hurt his team.
“You can’t make all those mistakes and win,” he said.
Socastee coach Ben Hampton also said his team needed to crack down on mistakes.
"We can’t get the silly penalties," he said. "When we get opportunities, we got to take advantage of it.”
The scoring got underway after a Sharks pass was picked off by the Braves' Marvin Lewis. That was followed by a 9-yard pass from Braves quarterback Rocco Wojcik to Tariq Hills. A few plays later, Wojcik gained 20 yards on a quarterback keeper to advance the ball to the 5 yard line. From there, the Braves Luke Bozard ran it in for a touchdown.
The point after was good, making the score 7-0 with 7 minutes left in the first quarter.
Later in that same period, facing fourth and 17 from the Braves’ 32 yard line, the Sharks attempted a long field goal, which was no good.
In the same quarter, a short out-of-bounds punt by the Sharks gave the ball to the Braves with good field position. The Braves Jakari Harmon scored on a touchdown pass but the play was canceled because of an offsides penalty.
A 14-yard run by the Braves’ Bozard got the ball within field goal range.
Braves’ field goal kicker Allen Hillegas split the uprights to make the score Braves 10-0 with 8:39 left in the second quarter.
With 4:09 left in the first half, Braves quarterback Wojcik connected with Omari Taylor for a touchdown pass. The point after was good, and the score was 17-0.
The score at the end of the first half was Socastee 17, St. James 0.
The third quarter got underway with a long run by Sharks quarterback Joey McMenamin, only to have the next play result in a fumble recovered by the Braves’ Lewis.
A few plays later, Sharks kicker Tyler Woodruff was good on a 24-yard field goal attempt, tightening the score to 17-3 with 7:50 left in the third quarter.
The score would remain 17-3 into the fourth.
Several big plays were made by each team in the last quarter, but they were canceled by penalties.
A strong run for a first down by the Braves' Caden O’Keefe set the stage for a short touchdown run by Bozard with 56 seconds left to play. The point after was good, making the final score 24-3.