MYRTLE BEACH – Da;jon Butts rushed for three touchdowns and Ontra Harvin was solid under center as Sumter pulled away from Socastee 48-21 on Friday at Braves Stadium.
Harvin, a junior who was making the start in place of 3-year starter Zykiem Jackson, was 13-for-17 passing for 176 yards and one score.
Jackson broke his collarbone in last week’s 14-13 loss to Conway.
“Losing Zykiem was a big blow to us, but we were confident with [Harvin] throwing the football. He throws the football really well,” Sumter coach Mark Barnes said.
“Our two quarterbacks had different skill sets, so I kind of got caught with my britches down last week when [Harvin] had to go play, because the offense was set up for the other quarterback," Barnes said.
Sumter, which improved to 8-2 overall and finished 4-1 in Region VI-5A, will be a No. 2 seed when the playoffs begin next Friday and will be at home against White Knoll.
Socastee (5-5, 1-4) earned an at-large spot and will travel to Fort Dorchester.
Butts scored on an 8-yard run and Harvin connected with Anthony Dinkins-McCall for a 54-yard score as Sumter jumped out to an early 14-0 lead.
Socastee answered on its next play when Hunter Illing found Devin Stamp open for a 70-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead in half, but a 7-yard touchdown run from Jonathan Henry in the final minute of the first quarter stopped any momentum the Braves had and kicked off a run of 35 straight points from the Gamecocks.
Already trailing 20-7, Socastee fumbled the ensuing kickoff return and started at its 5. Illing was picked off by Tyrese Witherspoon at the Braves' 23. Four play later, Butts charged into the end zone for a touchdown and a 27-7 Sumter lead.
The Gamecocks would also get another touchdown run from Butts, a 34-yard scoring connection from Harvin to Keshawn Croskey, and a 40-yard interception return for a score from Melvin Lundy during the scoring run.
The Braves were able to tack on a pair of late scores, one on a five-yard run from Illing and the other on a 34-yard run by Dashaun Myers, both in the fourth quarter.
Penalties plagued the Gamecocks, who were flagged 11 times for 108 yards.
“We seem to get a lot of penalties when we play at the beach for some reason. I don’t know why that is,” Barnes said.
Socastee had a slight edge with 345 yards of offense compared to 343 yards for Sumter, but the Braves also committed turnovers deep in their own territory and turned the ball over on downs three times as Sumter took full advantage of crucial field position.
“It was a good win for us,” Barnes said. “We wanted to be more physical tonight and I think we were. That’s what we’ve been known for for three years, and have kind of been lacking in that this year so far, so I was glad to see that tonight.”
Henry finished with 100 yards rushing on 15 carries. Dashaun Myers led Socastee with 17 carries for 144 yards.
The Gamecocks improve to 5-0 all time against Socastee and 14-1 in region play in three seasons under Barnes. Sumter had won 13-straight in the region before the loss to Conway.