5A Roundup: Tigers tackle Braves; Panthers falter late

confoot-sacksocConway quarterback Peyton Derrick threw six touchdown passes and Deandre Huggins scored three to lead the Tigers to a 54-21 blowout over visiting rival Socastee and allow them to clinch a playoff berth Friday night at The Backyard.

The Tigers (5-4 overall, 3-1 Region) took control from the very start, scoring in the opening minute on Huggins’ 5-yard run. After Socastee tied it up on Hunter Illing’s 23-yard TD toss to Malachi McClendon, Huggins found the end zone two more times on screen passes from Derrick. Darren Stanley and Juwon Moody also caught first half TD passes as Conway led 34-14 at intermission.

Derrick capped his big night with third-quarter TD passes to Moody and Xavier Kinlaw, who made a weaving run to paydirt for a 47-14 lead. His backup, D’Wuan Grainger, capped the Tigers’ offensive explosion with an 11-yard TD run late, marking the second time the Tigers broke the 50-point mark in as many weeks.

Socastee saw McClendon complete a 23-yard halfback pass to Aeneas Green and Dashuan Myers break loose for a 25-yard TD run, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with Conway’s high-octane offense. The Tigers close out the regular season at South Florence while Socastee welcomes West Florence.

* South Florence 41, Carolina Forest 38: For the second straight week, the Carolina Forest football team lost a late lead to deliver a serious blow to its playoff hopes, falling 41-38 to visiting South Florence on Friday on a last-minute touchdown.

After losing a triple-overtime thriller to Conway last week, the Panthers (6-3 overall, 2-2 Region 6-5A) gave up a short TD pass from Austin Moore to Freddy Sparks with 21 second remaining, spoiling a comeback bid that saw Carolina Forest take the lead with just 2 minutes left.

Carolina Forest quarterback Matt Beale’s third-and-long heave into the end zone was caught by Justin Elko from 26 yards out to give the Panthers their first lead since the opening drive. But Beale’s desperation throw as time expired was short of the end zone, sending the home crowd away disappointed for the second week in eight days.

Carolina Forest came out firing as Beale hit Ismael Garcia on a 50-yard TD strike on the opening drive. But South Florence responded with three straight TDs drive, aided by back-to-back fumbles by the Panthers. Deshawn Williams’ third TD run of the first half put the Bruins up 28-17, but Richmond Collier’s “wildcat” touchdown run cut the deficit to 28-24 at halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, Collier added another short TD run to put the Panthers on top 31-28, but the Bruins answered on Hykeem White’s 1-yard TD plunge. Carolina Forest blocked the PAT to keep it at 34-31, and used a long drive to reclaim the lead on the Beale-to-Elko connection. But the drive wasn’t time-consuming enough as South Florence methodically moved down field for the winning score. The Bruins converted a fourth-and-8 to set up the game-winner and earn a key region victory.

Carolina Forest next plays host to Sumter, a team it was tied atop the region standings with just two weeks ago. Now the Panthers may need a win to get into the playoffs now that South Florence holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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