Bobcats block Seahawks’ shot at state title three-peat

In a playoff matchup featuring two of the most prolific offenses in the South Carolina, this one came down to defense.

No. 1-ranked Bluffton, which boasts the highest-scoring offense in the state at more than 60 points per game, ousted two-time reigning Class AAA champion Myrtle Beach 21-7 in Friday night’s third-round playoff game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

The third-ranked Seahawks (11-2) made six trips into the red zone only to be turned away each time by the Bobcats’ (13-0) underrated defense.

Myrtle Beach finally scored on its seventh trip inside the Bobcats’ 25 with 2 minutes remaining on a 13-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Cooper to Tramond Wilson, but it was too little too late.

Myrtle Beach threw three interceptions – one that was returned for a touchdown – twice turned the ball over on downs and missed a field goal to be held scoreless for the first time since before the Seahawks began their run to three straight state title games.

The Myrtle Beach defense had a similarly strong performance against the high-scoring Bobcats. Bluffton took its opening drive the length of the field, capped by Eric Boyles’ 3-yard touchdown reception from C.J. Frazier for a quick 7-0 lead.

Bluffton’s C.J. Ford foiled Myrtle Beach’s second visit to the red zone by picking off a pass and returning it 74 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead the Bobcats, but the Bobcats were held in check until late in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for Myrtle Beach, so were the Seahawks and their two-quarterback rotation, who had combined for only five interceptions all season.

Tyler Keane threw two and C.J. Cooper threw one to kill three potential scoring drives in the first half, and Max Huggins misfired on a field goal to make it a 14-0 halftime deficit.

The Seahawks made two more trips into the red zone in the second half, both ending on loss of downs. Bluffton put the game away on a 2-yard TD run by Jerry Scott.

The Seahawks came out ahead on the stat sheet but not in the only category that counts. Despite gaining more yardage on the ground and threw the air, outgaining the Bobcats by a 404-234 margin, the Seahawks failed to capitalize on their opportunities.

The victory was especially sweet for the Bobcats, who lost to Myrtle Beach in last year’s playoffs by a 47-0 score. They advance to face Cane Bay in the Lower State championship next week.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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