NORTH MYRTLE BEACH 38, NORTH AUGUSTA 31 (3OT)
NORTH AUGUSTA — North Myrtle Beach came back to Aiken County and did it again.
The Chiefs endured a 4-hour drive to the area for a first-round playoff game for the second year in a row, then endured a comeback by sophomore quarterback Austin Harrell and North Augusta for a 38-31 win in triple overtime Friday night.
Harrell's fourth-down pass to the goal line fell incomplete, sending the Chiefs pouring onto the field for a victory dogpile in the end zone.
North Myrtle Beach quarterback Ramsey Lewis, a North-South selection, passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more, one in double overtime and one in triple overtime. The latter gave the Chiefs the lead, sending the defense back out to try to get a stop that had been so hard to come by after Harrell took over the offense.
He was sacked at the 20-yard line on second down, forcing a third-and-long. The Jackets cut the yardage to gain to 8 with Harrell's pass to Grayson Bridgers, setting up the fourth-and-the-season attempt.
Harrell rolled right and threw toward the corner, but it was incomplete.
Zane Smith and Drew Stevens traded field goals in the first overtime – Stevens' kick coming after Harrell scored what looked like the game-winner from a yard out, but it was flagged for an illegal shift – and then Harrell and Lewis traded rushing touchdowns in the second to extend the game.
Senior Bradley Godwin started the game at quarterback and accounted for 113 yards of total offense and a touchdown in the first half before leaving due to injury.
Harrell came in and started firing away immediately, hitting Jordan Wilburn for a 22-yard score in the closing seconds of the first half to cut the Jackets' deficit to 21-13.
That duo was right back at it to start the second half, connecting for a bizarre touchdown with 1:40 left in the third quarter. Harrell took the snap from the Chiefs' 47-yard line and launched the ball down the sideline for Wilburn, who was stripped of the ball as he approached the goal line. Players from both sides piled up in the end zone, fighting for the football, before Wilburn emerged with it for the score.
Wilburn caught seven balls for 148 yards and three touchdowns, the first coming from Godwin with 2:03 left in the first quarter after the Jackets had fallen behind 7-0. Cole Saggus bruised his way to 106 rushing yards on 22 carries but was injured in the first overtime.
Harrell completed 9 of 18 passes for 146 yards and two scores, and he rushed for an additional 30 yards and another TD.
Lewis rushed for 138 yards and passed for 78 to lead the Chiefs, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AAAA who occupied the same slot on the playoff bracket last year before making the long drive to beat South Aiken. Zyon Belle rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown, and Devin Montgomery ran for 56.
Up next for North Myrtle Beach is a rematch with rival Myrtle Beach, the defending state champions and No. 1-ranked team. For North Augusta, the hard-fought loss ends the Jackets' season with a record of 5-6.