The slugfest, hard-fought down to the last few seconds of the game Friday night between the St. James Sharks and Waccamaw Warriors, didn’t have anything to do with conference standings or the playoffs.
But it sure seemed as if each team was trying its best to end the season on the strongest note possible.
In the end, it was previously winless Waccamaw that defeated St. James, which finished the season with a 3-5 record. Waccamaw ended the season at 1-4 with the victory in the bowl-style game.
The homecoming game for the Sharks was close throughout the contest, with St. James leading at the end of the first quarter, 7-0. At the half, St. James was up 7-6; and by the end of the third quarter Waccamaw was ahead 18-17.
Waccamaw ultimately won 26-24.
Some game highlights included a short pass that St. James wide receiver Kaleb Simpson took to the house late in the first quarter; a long pass to Kaimon Skinner of Waccamaw in the second quarter; a run of 23 yards on a quarterback keeper by Waccamaw’s Denson Crisler in the second quarter; a long run by Waccamaw’s Kaimon Skinner for a touchdown in the third quarter; and a touchdown-saving tackle by St. James’ Marcus Alston in the second half.
The game featured a little bit of everything, including strong running by St. James backs Aryon Armstrong, who was injured in the second quarter but who would return later in the game, and Patrick Gallagher, who was also injured in the contest.
Gallagher ran for a touchdown with a little over nine minutes left in the third quarter. The 5-foot, 7-inch, 175-pound running back also made a long gain around the left side of the St. James offensive line to Waccamaw’s 16 with six minutes and 41 seconds left in the third quarter. That play set up a successful 37-yard field goal attempt by the Sharks’ Tyler Woodruff, with five minutes and 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
Penalties played a role in the outcome of the game.
Chase Washington of St. James ran a kickoff back for a touchdown at the start of the second half, only to have it nullified because of a holding penalty.
And late in the fourth quarter, with St. James moving down the field behind the determined running of Armstrong and quarterback Joey McMenamin, the Sharks were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That penalty resulted in Waccamaw taking over on downs and clinging to a two-point lead at the 39 yard line of the Sharks with only 2:23 left in the game.
But St. James didn’t go down without one last gasp.
After a short run by Waccamaw’s Kaimon Skinner, who gave the Sharks trouble all night and who scored on a long run for a touchdown in the third quarter, it was second down and five yards to go for the Warriors. Skinner ran around the right end for a first down, causing some of the St. James faithful to begin thinking the game was essentially over. A few of the Sharks fans, who had turned out for homecoming night, began leaving.
However, St. James used good clock management and a strong defense to stop the Warriors on fourth down with 40 seconds left in the game.
After St. James completed a couple of short passes to advance the ball to the 34 yard line, the quarterback spiked the football to stop the clock.
That was followed by an incomplete pass and then by another incomplete pass—on fourth down.
Waccamaw took over on downs with only 14 seconds left in the game, went to a kneel down and ran out the clock.
“They’re better than their record," Saint James coach Tommy Norwood said. “They’ve played some good people. When you play Lake View and you play Dillon, that’s about as good as you’re going to get.”
Norwood had hoped St. James would play better in the second half When the final outcome didn’t turn out the way Norwood had hoped for, he said he was nevertheless proud of his players.
Waccamaw head coach Amondre Johnson warmly praised his team, which huddled closely around him and then knelt in prayer.
"It was a tough, tough game against a very tough team," he said. "The kids played their hearts out tonight."