Region 6-5A: Tigers light up Knights; Panthers roll

Conway returned to its roots Friday night and used a punishing ground attack to trip defending region champion West Florence by a 41-38 score at E. Craig Wall Jr. Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers hit the Knights with a 1-2 running punch featuring Donovan Singleton and Michael James.

In addition to running for 178 yards, Singleton recovered an onside kick by the Knights with 30 seconds remaining to cement the victory.

The win was Conway’s first of the season and the first time the Tigers reached double figures in scoring in six games.

“Our guys fought hard and won this game,” Conway coach Carlton Terry said. “It was on them. I’m extremely proud of our guys. The hard work we’re putting in is starting to pay off.”

West Florence coach Jody Jenerette, who is a former Conway assistant, said the Tigers decided to play Conway football during his return.

“They were physical upfront and we couldn’t handle them,” Jenerette said. “They pushed the pumpkin and there was nothing we could do but take it.”

Conway drew first blood after Al-JaQuan Washington intercepted a pass by the Knights’ George Floyd.

After drawing an encroachment penalty to convert a fourth down and four play at the WFHS 12, James went the final three yards to give Conway the early lead with 1:53 remaining in the opening quarter. Chris Dewitt was true on the conversion kick.

West Florence responded with a 60-yard scoring march. Quarterback Hale Emerson connected with Dylan Snyder for 14 yards and the touchdown with 9:51 remaining before halftime. Steven Snell booted the PAT to tie the game.

The Knights recovered an onside kick and took a 10-7 advantage when Snell’s 30-yard field goal attempt hit the right crossbar and bounded inside the uprights at the 7:29 mark.

Undeterred, freshman quarterback Jabravion Woodward drove the Tigers down the field, and raced 25 yards down the home sidelines to convert a fourth-down play into a touchdown with 3:56 remaining.

Woodward started the game in Carlton Terry’s place, and made several big plays.

“Carlton was injured last week against Myrtle Beach,” coach Terry said. “He was ready to go if needed. I’m proud of my little man (Woodward). He came in and managed the game. He did some good things.”

After forcing a West Florence punt, Conway used a double pass to double the score at halftime.

Woodward took the snap, and tossed the ball to Terry along the sideline and Terry found a streaking Xavier Kinlaw to complete a 50-yard scoring play with 1:31 remaining. Dewitt missed the extra point, making the score 20-10 at intermission.

West Florence opened the scoring in the second half, taking advantage of a short field following a Conway fake punt to pull within 20-17 on Nyke Johnson’s 11-yard scoring run with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter.

Conway answered when James went one yard with 10:21 remaining in the game to give the Tigers a 27-17 lead.

The visitors cut the deficit to 27-24 when Emerson ran 50 yards on the first play after the kickoff with 10:06 left.

Conway drove 65 yards to take a 34-24 lead on Singleton’s 25-yard jaunt with 7:30 remaining.
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“Forty (Singleton) did a great job setting up blocks and finishing runs,” Terry said after the game. “He’s got a bright future.”

West Florence refused to go away, pulling within 34-30 on Terry McKeithan’s 33-yard scoring run at the 5:40 mark.

Conway then used more than four minutes to drive 66 yards and seemingly salt away the victory with 1:31 left on Singleton’s 33-yard touchdown run.

West Florence pulled within 41-38 on McKeithan’s seven-yard scoring run with 32 ticks left.

Singleton recovered the onside kick to end the suspense.

Going in, Jenerette expected his offense to struggle against the Conway defense but thought his defense could handle the Tigers’ offense, which came in averaging only one touchdown a game.

“It was one of those nights,” Jenerette said.

Conway, now 1-0 in the region and 1-4 overall, will travel to Socastee Friday.

The Knights will have a short week and host St. James on Thursday.

By Robert Anderson

Carolina Forest 63, Socastee 0

If you showed up a few minutes late for Friday’s Socastee-Carolina Forest matchup – as many did in the standing-room-only homecoming crowd – you missed the story of the game.

Fortunately for the home fans, they got to see it over and over for the remainder of the first half and start the celebration early in the Panthers’ 63-0 shutout of the Braves.

With the crowd still filing in at kickoff, Carolina Forest quarterback Mason Garcia connected on a 60-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Watkins on the very first snap from scrimmage.

“We always want to come out strong early,” said Watkins, who later added a rushing TD to the Panthers’ offensive explosion. “That’s about as strong and as early as you can get.”

The opposite was true for the Braves, whose opening drive saw four penalties, one that nullified a long TD pass. The Braves were forced to punt, and the game was essentially over.

Carolina Forest’s offense scored on all seven of its first half possessions while the defense shut down Socastee’s triple-option attack and forced Socastee turnovers and punts.

“I felt like our guys had a great week of practice and they were well prepared,” Carolina Forest coach Marc Morris said. “That’s a different offense that we don’t see a lot of.”

As it turned out, the Panthers didn’t see a lot of it Friday either. The defense repeatedly got the ball back into the hands of Garcia, who threw for over 200 yards and three TDs.

The final blow came in the second quarter when Carolina Forest scored three touchdowns in a span of less than 1 1/2 minutes. David Legette started it off with his second TD run of the night.

Socastee fumbled the ensuing kickoff and reserve running back Raquon Brown got into the action with his first TD. The Braves were intercepted on their next play and Mo Belfield’s TD run made it 49-0 at halftime.

The second half more closely resembled a JV game with a running clock and lots of clean jerseys taking turns the field – the perfect ending to a near-perfect game for the Panthers.

“We wanted to show after the Myrtle Beach loss that we’re a better team than that,” Watkins said. “The way we played tonight, I think we could have beaten anybody in the state.”

Or at least the region, where 10th-ranked Carolina Forest (4-1 overall, 1-0 Region 6-5A) finds itself in the unfamiliar role of favorite following its region-opening performance.

“I don’t know about that,” Morris said. “Our goal is to go 5-0 in the region and you can’t do that unless you win the first one. We will take this one and get ready for next week.”

Carolina Forest must travel to South Florence next Friday.

Socastee (1-4, 0-1), which was shut out for the fourth time this season, plays host to Conway.

By Terry Massey

South Florence 35, St. James 7

The St. James Sharks could never get on track against the South Florence Bruins Friday, falling 35-7. Friday’s contest was the first region game for both teams.

The contest was the first 5A varsity game ever held at the South Florence field. South Florence, Wilson and West Florence all share Florence’s Memorial Stadium. This season, each of the schools will host a game at their own home field.

The Bruins used a spread passing game and the running of junior back Hahsaun Wilson to keep the Shark defense off balance most of the night. The Shark offense struggled to sustain drives much of the game. Untimely turnovers and penalties also led to the Sharks’ woes.

The Bruins took a 14-0 lead into the halftime and bumped that up to 21-0 five minutes into the third quarter. The Sharks took to the air and found pay dirt less than two minutes later making the score 21-7, but that was all they could muster for the evening.

St. James (3-3, 0-1 region) head coach Tommy Norwood was disappointed following the game and did not mince words about his team’s performance.

“We just didn’t come to play tonight,” Norwood said. “When things started going bad, we fell off the cliff.”

The Sharks return to Florence next week to take on West Florence as region play continues. Norwood said he did not know much about West Florence but lamented, “If we play like we did tonight, they might score 100 points on us.”

South Florence, also 3-3, will host Carolina Forest.

By Tom O’Dare

– Photo by Chuck Silvey

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