As the final seconds of the first half ticked off the stunning new video board at Battery Creek High School on Wednesday night, it seemed like the magic of the Dolphins’ new digs might be wearing off.
Star Damien Freeman was on the sideline with his arm in a sling, the secondary was in shambles, and the Dolphins were down by 10 in a game they desperately needed to win to have a shot at making the playoffs.
But a different Creek team emerged from the locker room, as the defense pitched a second-half shutout and Jeremiah Mceachin carried the load with 262 rushing yards and three TDs to fuel the Dolphins to a 40-24 win over North Charleston for their second straight win to open their renovated stadium.
Freeman left with a collarbone injury after scoring the game’s first touchdown, leaving Mceachin to be the workhorse, and the senior toted it 32 times and gave Creek a 14-8 lead with 8:28 left in the half when things started going sideways. A long kick return set the Cougars up in Creek territory, and elusive quarterback Tyrell Gadsden hit Xzavion Capers for a quick score before North Charleston added the two-point conversion for a 16-14 lead.
After the Dolphins muffed a punt, the duo connected again when Gadsden scrambled out of trouble and chucked it deep for Capers, and the Cougars against slammed in the conversion try for a 10-point lead. Creek drove inside the 10 in an effort to respond before halftime, but the Dolphins were stopped on fourth down at the 5 in a deflating end to the half.
Battery Creek’s defense set the tone for the second half from the outset, as Leroy Tyus and Anthony Phelan led a renewed pass rush that flustered Gadsden and a green secondary wracked by injuries buckled down and helped the Dolphins win the field position game.
Quarterback Hunter Smith adjusted after halftime and came up with two big plays in the passing game, finding Kendall McMillon on a quick pass that struck paydirt and popping one over the line for a streaking Juju Gordon, who dashed into the end zone for a 26-24 lead with 7:35 to play.
The Dolphins’ defense bent, allowing Gadsden to scramble for a first down on fourth-and-long, but Gordon stole the spotlight again with an interception in the end zone to preserve the lead, and Mceachin made sure the Cougars couldn’t keep pace. The bruising back led a workmanlike drive and capped it off with his second touchdown run, then added another to seal it after the Dolphins recovered a fumble on the kick return.
It gets tougher for the Dolphins (3-4, 1-0) this week, as they host rival Beaufort on Saturday. The Eagles (4-1, 1-0) are the fifth-ranked team in Class 3A.
By Justin Jarrett / LowcoSports@gmail.com
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