NORTH MYRTLE BEACH 38, NORTH AUGUSTA 31 (3OT)
NORTH AUGUSTA — North Augusta's final football game of the season, and the Jackets' last game under head coach Brian Thomas, contained familiar components from several previous games this year.
The Jackets gave up a quick early touchdown. They trailed at halftime. They rallied furiously to get back into the game. And ultimately, for the sixth time in 11 games, they lost.
North Myrtle Beach came back to Aiken County and played road warriors in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs for the second year in a row, enduring a 4-hour bus ride and then enduring a comeback by North Augusta and sophomore quarterback Austin Harrell for a 38-31 win in triple overtime Friday night.
The Jackets (5-6) trailed at halftime for the eighth time this season, but the defense shut out the Chiefs in the second half to give North Augusta a shot at advancing to a second-round matchup against defending state champion Myrtle Beach.
Down seven points and facing a fourth down in triple overtime, North Augusta needed to find the end zone to either extend the game to another extra period or add a two-point conversion and win it in the third. Harrell's pass to the goal line fell incomplete, though, 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, but Stevens' 22-yarder came only after the Jackets had prematurely celebrated a victory. Harrell scored what appeared to be the game-winner from a yard out, but the play was flagged for an illegal shift.
Harrell and Lewis then 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. He surpassed 500 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing for the season during the game.
Harrell came in with the Jackets trailing 21-6 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 scored 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. The senior made the switch over to running back late in the season and ended the year with 454 yards on 64 carries.
Harrell completed 9 of 18 passes for 146 yards and two scores, and he rushed for an additional 30 yards and another TD. Micah Jackson emerged as a steady option in the passing game and caught four balls for 35 yards. Bridgers had two long receptions called back due to penalties and finished with 36 yards on three grabs.
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.