Seahawks flip the script on No. 1 Hartsville in rematch

Myrtle Beach exorcised its biggest demon from the 2018 regular season.

And now the Seahawks will be playing for their eighth state championship in program history.

Coach Mickey Wilson’s team defeated Hartsville 52-31 in the Lower State title game at Kelleytown Stadium, winning their fourth straight playoff game by double digits after a humbling 70-34 loss to the Red Foxes to close out the regular season four weeks ago.

From start to finish, the most-recent meeting couldn’t have looked much different from the first.

Myrtle Beach’s offense played turnover-free ball while Luke Doty piled up seven total touchdowns. The defense also minimized star Hartsville senior Tiyon Evans enough to open up the final margin.

“We came over here and got embarrassed. We got embarrassed,” Wilson said of that Nov. 1 game. “We got on the bus and said ‘We’ve got to go to work.’ We got better. Our kids did that. That’s sometimes hard for 15-, 16-, 17-year old kids to do. Not only on-field execution, but emotionally, being able to battle back from that is huge.”

Execution was a huge part of flipping a 36-points defeat to a three-touchdown win, obviously. The Seahawks had three early turnovers in that first game compared to none Friday.

Strategy also played a starring role.

The Seahawks stretched the seams of their playbook this week preparing for the Red Foxes, using seldom-seen offensive sets that had lineman positioned as receivers and everyone scrambling back and forth.

“The whole week it was putting in new stuff to shift that defense around,” receiver Da’Ron Finkley said after catching three of Doty’s touchdown passes and 114 yards total. “Last time, they knew what we were coming out with.”

As a result, a Hartsville defense that was the best in the state in terms of points per game allowed entering the night was out of sorts. Doty took advantage.

The junior ended the game with 21 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 20-of-26 for 257 and five aerial strikes – two to Finkley, two more to Wyatt Roache and another to Jermani Green.

The Hartsville offense didn’t have enough steam to keep up.

Evans – who has already etched his name into Red Foxes history in passing, rushing and receiving yards while playing three positions – had two first-quarter touchdown runs and then brought back the opening kickoff of the second half 99 yards for another score. Less than 5 minutes later, teammate Lacey Josey ran one in from 18 yards out to make the score 35-31 Myrtle Beach.

That’s as close as it would get.

Doty, the South Carolina commitment, added his final three touchdowns of the evening and helped punch he and his teammates’ ticket to Williams-Brice Stadium. There, the Seahawks will face Greer on Saturday with everything on the line.
Myrtle Beach will be playing for its eighth title, chasing the previous ones in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 2008, 2010 and 2013. The Seahawks also reached the finals on three other occasions.

The struggle toward getting to that point again started well before the last time Myrtle Beach was in Kelleytown.

But the extra inspiration certainly didn’t hurt.

“Going back this summer, spring ball, all summer workouts, this is exactly what we worked for,” Doty said. “It’s so hard to describe. It’s surreal, really. But one thing’s for sure – we’re going to play for a state championship in Williams-Brice.”

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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