The Loris Lions, led by new coach Greg Mance, won their season opener at Waccamaw High School Friday night.
Mance, a state championship-winning coach from Virginia who is in his first year with the Lions, wants to lead the team through a better season than they had last year, when they posted a 1-9 record.
Although Loris turned the ball over four times, they still managed to pull out the victory with two touchdowns, beating the Waccamaw Warriors 12-7.
“I just felt we left points on the board, and usually when you do that, it comes back to bite you. Give credit to our defense, they battled all night,” Mance said. “Offensively, we moved the ball. We did things well in spurts, but we didn’t play consistently enough. We’ve got to clean it up, play more consistent.”
Waccamaw got the ball first, but the Warriors couldn’t turn any of their five first-half possessions into a scoring drive. At one point, they turned the ball over with an interception.
Loris also turned the ball over three times in their four possessions of the first half, fumbling twice. Near then end of the first half, with the ball at the Warriors’ 27, Lions quarterback Brice Faircloth got picked off by Waccamaw’s Stacy Wilson, and the first half ended with no points on the board.
The game changed at the top of the fourth quarter.
The Lions returned a punt mid-way into Warriors’ territory, and Loris was able to put together the first scoring drive of the night. On third and goal at the Warriors’ 8, Faircloth completed a pass to tight end Joseph Flesch for the touchdown. The extra point was no good.
“Things were against us, but our kids battled and battled, and I think we got rid of some jitters in the first half," Mance said. "We executed better in the second half. Just still, we’re just not sharp.”
Two possessions later, Waccamaw capitalized on a Faircloth fumble, giving them good field position at the Lions’ 38. The Warriors turned the opportunity into seven points when running back Jay Simmons found his way into the end zone and the team made good on their extra point.
On the next possession, the Lions stepped up and regained the lead with a successful drive that started from their own 27 and ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Faircloth to wide receiver Jassir Sinkler. The team tried a two-point conversion, but they were stopped. Neither team scored again after that.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Mance said. “They kept fighting. We came from behind in the fourth quarter, and we made some plays. That’s things we can build on. Yardage-wise, we had some good numbers. And first downs, we had some good numbers. Just too many turnovers and gotta get it cleaned up.”
The coach said the team would work on fundamentals and "doing the little things right" before next week’s home opener against Georgetown.
But he said he was happy with how his team played in the face of adversity.
“It says a lot about these kids,” Mance added. “A lot of negative things happened; calls went against us. They didn’t get down on each other; that’s what we’ve been preaching, pick each other up, play the next play. I was very proud of the way our team held together tonight.”