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Hoggard storms back


Hoggard's Keevin Thompson runs the ball against Irmo (S.C.) during a game at the Carolinas Kickoff Clash at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (Photo by Paul Stephen)


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | With less than a minute left in the game, Irmo senior Demetrius Lewis scanned the Hoggard defense and fired deep down field one final time.

Early in Saturday's contest at the Carolinas Kickoff Clash, the Vikings struggled to keep up with the South Carolina team’s no-huddle spread attack. By the time Lewis attempted his 38th pass of the afternoon, they had long since figured it out.

Senior Kirk Messick’s leaping interception sealed Hoggard’s 24-22 comeback victory at Myrtle Beach High School’s Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium. To overcome a nightmare start, the Vikings forced six turnovers, scored a defensive touchdown and held the Yellow Jackets scoreless over the game’s final 30 minutes, 48 seconds.

“I’m not going to put blame on anybody,” said senior Devyn Bond, who earned game most valuable player honors with a disruptive performance on the defensive line. “Our whole defense just needed to put in a little bit more work. We ended up getting it done.”

Hoggard’s defense showed early cracks that seemed likely to worsen on a sweltering afternoon. The Vikings (2-0) ceded 166 passing yards in the first quarter alone and fell behind 14-0 when Lewis broke up the middle on a 38-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.

Senior Malik Moore’s second-quarter fumble recovery started the turnaround. On the next play, sophomore Xavier Johnson hit junior Harrison Smith for a 24-yard touchdown that made it 14-10.

Johnson relieved junior Austin Schoenleber after three scoreless drives to start the game and played most of the final three quarters. The 6-foot-5 signal caller led three scoring drives and finished 10-for-18 for 121 yards with two touchdowns.

“During the week, we threw a lot of the routes that we were going to throw today,” Johnson said. “I think it helped a lot to memorize the routes and where to put it. I felt like I was ready whenever I got the opportunity to step up and play.”

Coach Scott Braswell said afterward that the quarterbacks will continue their competition.

Hoggard took the lead for good thanks to two more turnovers just after halftime. Irmo’s punter couldn’t handle a snap at the goal line and sophomore Qadhafi Turner pounced on the loose ball for a touchdown.

On the next drive, Bond picked off a screen pass at the Irmo 10-yard line, setting up Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown pass to senior Trevor Singleton, a basketball standout who has not played football since his freshman season.

Irmo (0-2) missed a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter but never threatened on three drives in the final period. Lewis completed just 3 of 17 pass attempts for 34 yards in the second half.

“[The win] rewards the guys for battling through some adversity, just persevering,” Braswell said. “Those are great life lessons to learn, so that’s special to see.”