(Story by Justin Mathis) North Carolina entered the 82nd Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Saturday at Gibbs Stadium with a three-game winning streak seeking to extend it to four, which would be the longest string of wins in the series for the Tarheels. But the streak ended, sort of, with a 10-10 tie. So, the Tarheels can claim a four-game unbeaten streak vs the Sandlappers.
The third possession of the game was the charm for the South Carolina offense after a three-and-out and turnover of downs to start the game. A 10 yard punt by North Carolina put the Sandlappers on the Tarheels’ 45 yard line in fantastic field position.
On the first play of the drive, Greenville High quarterback Davis Beville dropped back and launched a 45 yard bomb to Hillcrest wide receiver Quendarius Jefferson, who made a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone, despite having a defender draped all over him, to put South Carolina in front 7-0 with 5:19 left in the opening quarter.
“That (play) was kind of ‘trust your man’,” Beville, a Pitt commit, explained. “(We) have been working together for a while now. We saw that he had a good matchup and I just took it.” He completed nine of his 16 pass attempts for 114 yards, picking up Offensive MVP honors for South Carolina.
When the second quarter began, North Carolina looked to the ground attack to find an answer. Southern Nash running back Zonovan Knight, a North Carolina State commit, took the handoff and sprinted through the opening on the left side of the line for a 61 yard touchdown, tying the game at seven with 10:39 remaining before intermission. Knight finished with 24 carries for 151 yards to go with his touchdown, which earned him Offensive MVP honors for North Carolina.
Midway through the frame, the Tarheels put together a 13 play, 70 yard drive that chewed up eight minutes and resulted in a 19 yard field goal from Matthew Chmil to give North Carolina a 10-7 lead at the break.
South Carolina’s offense struggled for the most part in the third quarter, only maintaining possession for just over four minutes. However, the Sandlapper defense continued to stand tall, forcing a missed field goal on North Carolina’s first possession in the second half and a turnover on downs at the Sandlappers’ 11 yard line with 11:06 to go in regulation.
During the final quarter, South Carolina head coach Jackie Hayes decided to put Zaach Pickens, a University of South Carolina commit, in the backfield and found success. On the first drive with Pickens taking direct snaps from the backfield, the Sandlappers made it to their own 49 before North Carolina recovered a fumble by the TL Hanna standout just before it rolled out of bounds.
A blocked punt on the ensuing drive put the Sandlappers at the North Carolina 38 yard line. South Carolina went back to work with Pickens lining up in the backfield and moved down the field, deep into enemy territory, before settling for a 25 yard field goal from West Florence’s Michael Hayes.
“That was different,” Pickens admitted. “I had never received the snap in the wildcat (formation) before. I actually liked being in the wildcat (because) I didn’t have to take a handoff – just get it and go.” Pickens carried the ball seven times for a team-high 37 yards and tallied seven total tackles.
With 31 seconds left in the contest, South Carolina got the ball back for one last chance to score. A pass from Beville to West Florence running back Ailym Ford put the Sandlappers at the North Carolina 44 with six seconds left.
Beville took the snap and fired a desperation heave toward the end zone, but it was batted away, ending the game in a 10-10 tie. This marks the first tie in the Shrine Bowl since 1948.
“We made some mistakes, but what an effort by our players,” Sandlapper head coach Jackie Hayes said. “I thought that we had a good scheme, both defensively and offensively. They outweighed us by 50 or 60 pounds a man… I thought we played well up there. We didn’t execute a couple of times. If we had a little more execution, we’d probably have 14 more points, but I’m proud of the guys. They gave us everything they had and that’s all you can ask for.”
J.R. Walker (Clayton HS) was also named North Carolina’s Defensive MVP, recording six tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Note: For the 2019 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, Dean Boyd from Marlboro County was announced as the head coach of the South Carolina Sandlappers.
Justin Mathis with Sandlappers’ coach Jackie Hayes
Mathis with Zacch Pickens
Mathis with Davis Beville
Final Team Statistics
Final Individual Statistics