If Monday night’s game is any indication of things to come, then Myrtle Beach fans are in for a treat this spring with the Myrtle Beach Freedom indoor football team.
In their first regular season game at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, the Freedom came from behind against the Savannah Steam with just a few seconds on the clock to post their first win in their initial season in the American Indoor Football league.
Led by former Penn State quarterback and Big Ten player of the year Darryl Clark, the Freedom put on quite a show in front of 1,100 fans who were on their feet during the last quarter.
With Clark’s arm and strong running, the Freedom took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter but went into the half trailing 20-12.
Even with an injured arm and getting hit a lot for most of the game, Clark kept his team in the game, pushing his way into the end zone on a third and fourth effort to tie the game at 27-27 with 8:21 left in the contest.
But Savannah hit pay dirt and took over the lead a short time later and seemed to have the game in hand at 33-27.
With the clock winding down, the Freedom’s Dontrelle Sanford pulled in an interception on his team’s 10-yard line with 21 seconds left in the game.
Backup quarterback Mike Johnson from Newberry College came in for Clark and hit former Newberry teammate and Conway Tiger Jason Livingstone on a post route for a 40-yard scoring strike tying the game with 15.8 seconds left.
Kicker Vic Leventritt nailed the extra point kick giving the Freedom a 34-33 lead and the win.
A jubilant head coach Ryan David said he was extremely proud of how his team fought through adversity for most of the evening for the organization’s first win.
“I’m so proud of how they kept fighting and never gave up tonight,” David said. “Darryl Clark is the real deal. There’s a reason lots of scouts are looking at him.”
As to the winning touchdown, David said he was proud of how Johnson came in and calmly found the open man for the score.
“And what can I say about Jason Livingstone,” he added. “He’s a wonderful player and a wonderful human being.”
Johnson said the final play was something they had practiced a lot and he knew if he got the ball anywhere near his former Newberry teammate, he’d make the grab.
Leventritt said kicking the winning extra point “is what kickers live for.”
Clark said the game shows what a great group of guys the Freedom has on the field this year.
“Everybody works hard for each other,” he said. “The fans were great and I think this is going to be a great thing for the Myrtle Beach area.”
Assistant general manager John Gill said the opening crowd of over 1,000 was a good sign that area fans are interested in what the Freedom has to offer.
“We’ve got a good team this year and we’re already getting inquiries from players from across the country for next year,” he said.
The Freedom travels to Lakeland, Florida this weekend to take on the Central Florida Jags before returning home to the Convention Center on Monday, April 11 to face the Georgia Firebirds.
Kickoff for home games is 7:05 p.m.