Shorthanded Seahawks fall to hungry Marlboro County

mbfoot-18sackedThe talk began shortly after Myrtle Beach High’s young squad won the 2013 Class 3A state championship: If they can stay healthy, the Seahawks should win it again.

The operative phrase, “If they can stay healthy,” proved to be the ultimate downfall of Myrtle Beach’s title defense as they fell to visiting Marlboro County 42-17 in the third round of the state playoffs Friday night at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium.

After starting quarterback Drayton Arnold suffered a season-ending thumb injury in the first round, backup QB Jake Deskins sustained a sprained thumb in practice earlier this week. That left third-string freshman Lawson Cribb at the controls of the Seahawks offense against a hungry Bulldogs team that had never defeated Myrtle Beach in the postseason.

They finally got it Friday, thanks to five turnover performance from an out-of-sync Seahawks’ offense. Myrtle Beach committed three turnovers on its first five plays of the game to set the table for Marlboro County, which jumped out to a 28-3 lead.

The Bulldogs had surprising success running the ball against the Myrtle Beach defense, as the running back duo of Dylven Covington scored on touchdown runs of 9 and 8 yards in the first quarter and A.J. McClain added TD carries of 13 and 1 yards in the second period.

Myrtle Beach had been limited to a 26-yard field goal by Sean Huggins, but the Seahawks finally got something going just before halftime. Cribb connected with Kelton Greene from 9 yards out to cut the deficit to 28-10 at the intermission. Myrtle Beach began to play even with the Bulldogs in the second half, but the damage had already been done.

The score remained the same until midway through the fourth quarter when Marlboro County’s third running back found paydirt twice on the night with TD runs of 21 and 31 yards by Dwayne Smith. Greene scored on a late touchdown run out of the WildHawk formation but it was too little too late.

Despite having senior quarterback London Johnson and a stable of receivers, Marlboro County kept the ball almost exclusively on the ground, especially after early success allowed them to control the ball and the clock. The Bulldogs travel to Hartsville for the Lower State Final next Friday.

Myrtle Beach finishes the season with an 11-2 record after holding the No. 1 ranking most of the season. The Seahawks lose 22 seniors from this year’s roster but return rising seniors Arnold and Sinclair, as well as a strong supporting cast.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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