Socastee downs Hartsville, keeps postseason run alive

socfoot-renfrowlakecityThe Socastee High football team spent the last year trying to get the bad taste out of its mouth from its season-ending loss to Hartsville in the Lower State semifinals.

On Friday night, Socastee (12-0) finally replaced it with the sweet taste of success by defeating the defending state champion Red Foxes (10-2) 21-20 in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs at The Reservation.

Socastee quarterback Hunter Renfrow made the game-clinching interception on the final play of the game as Hartsville threw a Hail Mary attempt at the horn. Renfrow took a knee and then the Braves began celebrating the biggest win in a string of many, 24 of their last 25, to be exact.

But for all the hype of a rematch, for all the back-and-forth action, and for all the costly penalties on both sides of the ball, it all came down to one play. The Red Foxes scored a potential game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter but, after the Braves were flagged for their fourth unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the night, Hartsville opted to go for 2 and the win.

Hartsville tried the same play they had scored the previous TD on, a 2-yard dive to Shey McPhail. But this time the Braves defense was ready for it and stopped him shy of the goalline to maintain a 21-20 lead. Socastee ran out most of the clock before giving it back to Hartsville with a minute remaining.

The game started out looking like a replay of last year’s 40-13 demolition by Hartsville. Socastee’s offense went three-and-out on its opening possession while the Red Foxes drove 97 yards and took the early lead on a 16-yard TD run by Brian Rivers.

But then the game changed dramatically when the Socastee defense began stopping the run and the Braves’ triple-option finally got rolling. Surprisingly, it was Socastee’s seldom-used passing game that finally got the Braves on the board.

Renfrow was forced to leave the game for one play after apparently having the breathe knocked out of him. He returned one play later and threw a frozen rope between two defenders to hit Matt Trimby for a game-tying 14-yard TD.

The Braves began to flex some muscle with their ground game against one of the area’s top-ranked defenses. Kyle Smith capped an impressive drive with a 3-yard TD dive and Delano Walters took an option pitch to the house from 15 yards out for a 21-7 halftime lead.

But the Braves were shut out in the second half and had to rely on the defense and special teams for the win. Trimby pinned the Red Foxes inside their own 5 on three different punts and the defense forced Hartsville to eat some clock during their comeback bid.

Hartsville cut the deficit in half on a touchdown pass to Morris on a drive that was aided by two personal fouls. Then McPhail put the Red Foxes in position to tie it up late before the half-the-distance penalty convinced Hartsville to go for 2 and the win, or in this case, the loss.

The Braves return home next week to face Marlboro County in the third round.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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