Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season

North Myrtle Beach’s record-setting season came to an end Friday night in a 34-17 loss to Berkeley in the Class 4A Lower State semifinals as the No. 2-ranked Chiefs suffered their first loss of the year to the No. 6-ranked and home-standing Stags.

Playing without leading rusher Kered Class, who suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s win, the Chiefs (12-1) got an admirable effort from running back TJ Gore. He rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown, but North Myrtle Beach struggled in the passing game and couldn’t keep pace with the high-powered Stags (12-1) offense.

The Chiefs came out ready to play, marching their first possession to the Berkeley 2 before settling for a Zane Smith field goal. North Myrtle Beach’s Naseem Harrison recovered a Stags fumble and quarterback Cason McClendon hit Tyron Stockdale for a 15-yeard touchdown pass to put the Chiefs on top 10-0 right out of the gate.

But Berkeley finally got its offense on track as quarterback Eric Tuttle threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter. His 21-yarder to DJ Chisolm gave Berkeley a 14-10 advantage at the intermission. It was the first time the Chiefs have trailed at halftime this season.

North Myrtle Beach came out of the break firing with a nice drive capped on a 5-yard touchdown run by Gore for a 17-14 lead. But the Stags answered right back with a TD drive of their own, capped by a 19-yard run by Keshawn Wicks. Berkeley added to its lead on a Tyriek Cooper 25-yard TD run for a 27-17 edge entering the final quarter.

The Chiefs were putting together an answering drive until McClendon was intercepted early in the fourth quarter. The Stags put the final nail in the Chiefs’ coffin on a 2-yard TD run by Wicks that closed out the scoring.

North Myrtle Beach posted its first undefeated regular season in school history, and claimed its first outright Region 7-4A championship.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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