Myrtle Beach defeats Hartsville, advances to the state title game
The storybook ending is yet to be written, but Myrtle Beach avenged a bully on Friday night, defeating Hartsville 52-31 to claim the Class 4A Lower State crown and advance to play Greer for the state champion- ship on Saturday at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia.
The Seahawks (11-1) bottled up explosive Hartsville (12-1) quarterback Tiyon Evans for much of the night, stopping him from taking over the game like he did when the two teams met in the regular season. On the other side, Myrtle Beach quarterback Luke Doty had his best showing of the season, ripping off long runs and firing passes into tight windows with ease. He finished the night with nearly 300 yards passing and over 200 yards rushing, all while piling up seven touchdowns.
“He was sharp tonight,” said Doty’s coach, Mickey Wilson. “He worked his tail off to get to tonight and have a great game. I don’t know what the stats look like, but I know he was on his game tonight. It was impressive, for sure. He’s a kid that can run the football really well and we felt like that was something we could take advantage of with the way their defense lined up.”
The first matchup between these teams, a 70-34 Hartsville victory on Nov. 1 that clinched the Region 6-4A title for the Red Foxes, got away from Myrtle Beach due to turnovers and the onslaught of the Hartsville offense. On Friday, the Myrtle Beach defense closed out November by shutting down the Hartsville offense and sending Evans to an early exit from the game with an interception around the 8-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
“It was one of those nights where everything just came together,” Wilson said. “It was back-and-forth in the first quarter, but after that we settled down and really did a great job on the defensive side of the ball. Our defensive staff is amazing. The biggest thing is when we got beat; we went back home and learned from our mistakes. We learned and got better and that’s all that you can ask for.”
All week at practice, and since the Nov. 1 loss to Hartsville, the Seahawks have talked about how they would learn from that result and be better because of it. With their chance to back up those words, the Seahawks left no doubt with their play on the field.
“After the first game was over, the coaches and players agreed that losing like we did on this field was probably the best thing that happened to us this season,” said senior offensive lineman Evan Jumper. “It really humbled us and got us to refocus on the basics and we grinded to get back here. We knew that we could get back here in the playoffs if we worked our tails off and that’s exactly what we did.”
Myrtle Beach came out of the gate aggressive, winning the toss and taking the ball to start the game. Doty led his team on a crisp scoring drive, culminating it with a 15yard pass to Wyatt Roache. Hartsville would answer with a long drive of its own, capped off by Evans’ first rushing touchdown of the night. Doty would rip off a rushing score and two more passes before halftime, while Evans would lead another touchdown drive and a field goal before the break. Evans then took the second half kickoff 100 yards for a Hartsville score, trimming the Myrtle Beach lead to 28-24. Doty would score twice in the third quarter and again in the fourth quarter to build the insurmountable lead.
“Coach Wilson and I talked about this one a lot, that this would be a great story to come back and beat these guys in the playoffs,” Doty said. “This really is a storybook; we’ve been working for this since May. At the start of spring ball, we were hoping for this moment and we worked hard all summer just to get here. We wanted this opportunity, but being here is surreal.”
Now Doty, a University of South Carolina commit, will get to lead his team for the first time at Williams Brice Stadium, chasing the storybook ending to his first season as a starting quarterback.
Myrtle Beach quarterback Luke Doty (9) escapes the Hartsville defense on his way to a 210-yard, two-touchdown night.