Seahawks eye redemption in rematch with Hartsville

The film was nearly as painful as the game itself.

A cruel reminder of just how badly Hartsville had dismantled Myrtle Beach, it made the Seahawks look over-ranked and outclassed by a real state title contender. The Red Foxes muscled coach Mickey Wilson’s team out of the Region VI-4A crown and homefield advantage throughout the lower state playoffs with a 70-34 victory on Nov. 1 that equalled the third-most lopsided loss in Wilson’s 10-year tenure and the only time it gave up 70 points.

Flash forward to this Friday, four weeks and one day after the regular-season finale, and that crushing defeat is still on the minds of everyone in Myrtle Beach green and gold heading into the lower state championship rematch.

“Football’s a crazy sport,” Wilson said. “When we went over there last time, we played as bad as we could possibly play, and they played as great as they could possibly play.”

That was a relatively broad generalization from the Seahawks’ 10th-year coach, but believe that confronting that game is how Myrtle Beach is trying to learn from its mistakes. And, yes, there were plenty the first time around.

One minute into the game, a botched snap on a punt set up Hartsville senior Tiyon Evans’ 6-yard touchdown run moments later. Two possessions after that, the Red Foxes sacked Myrtle Beach quarterback Luke Doty in the end zone for a safety. On the ensuing drive, Evans added scoring run No. 2 to push his team to a 16-0 advantage.

The teams exchanged scoring runs before Evans went off two more times before halftime to extend the lead to 36-7 at the break. He would add a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half and then threw a long scoring strike three minutes later.

By that point, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hartsville that Myrtle Beach was going to be able to mount the necessary comeback.

“It was a wake-up call for us that we’ve got to come to work every single week and just go to work,” Doty said. “That’s what we’ve done the last few weeks leading up to this game. That means a lot to us going in and getting after it.”

It’s true that Myrtle Beach has rebounded nicely.

The Seahawks have run through the first three rounds of the state playoffs, beating Dreher, Marlboro County and North Myrtle Beach each by at least four touchdowns. Their defense has returned to form, giving up just 28 points in those three games.

But that’s what Myrtle Beach was doing in every other game outside of the one against Hartsville anyway. Wilson’s team has allowed 145 points on the season, and nearly half of those were the 70 that the Red Foxes put up in that first game.

Much of that had to do with Evans. He finished that first meeting with more than 160 rushing yards, another 160 passing and six combined touchdowns. If the entire game was a wake-up call, Evans was the voice on the other end of the line for a defense that was tops statistically in Class 4A prior to that game.

“Supposedly we were No. 1 defense in the state,” Myrtle Beach defensive lineman J.B. Favorite said. “We went into Hartsville a little big-headed, and we got beat down. We needed that. Now we’re going in confident but level-headed. We have to wrap up. We have to stay together as a unit. When we got down early [last time], we panicked a little and played the blame game. They just took advantage of that.”

Avoiding mistakes early in the game will be a priority for Myrtle Beach (10-1). Maybe better than any other team this season, Hartsville (12-0) has been proficient in maximizing miscues. It’s why so many of their final victories are as lopsided as they are (only one opponent has kept it to a single-score final margin).

For the Seahawks, breaking down their own blowout loss to Hartsville has been a difficult but necessary approach toward making sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We’ve just to come in laser-focused,” Doty said. “We’ve got to go over there and execute at a high level. That’s what we plan to do. Last game’s outcome wasn’t exactly what we wanted. I think we’re definitely going to learn from that.”

– Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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