MOUNT PLEASANT — Oceanside Collegiate captured the Region 6-AA championship with a 49-40 win over Timberland on Friday at Park West on Friday night.
It’s the first region title for the fourth-year Landsharks. It’s the first region loss since 2012 for the seven-time defending region champion Timberland Wolves.
“No one can ever take this away from you,” third-year Oceanside coach Chad Grier assured his players as they huddled around him after the game. “No matter what. Nine times this season, you lined up against your opponent. And nine times, you came out with the win. You’ve earned it.”
Oceanside Collegiate (9-0, 4-0) is awaiting a ruling from the S.C. High School League after another school reported an alleged rules violation by Oceanside. The complaint alleged that Oceanside allowed players to participate in both junior varsity and varsity games last week against Philip Simmons, which would violate SCHSL rules.
Timberland (5-2, 2-1) closes its regular season next week at home against North Charleston. As of now, Oceanside (9-0, 4-0), as Region 6-AA champion, will have an opportunity to host at least the first two rounds of the upcoming AA state playoffs. The Landsharks have a bye next week.
Timberland and Oceanside traded scores through the first half, even in the final minute.
James Alston put the Wolves ahead, 20-14, with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone with just 36 seconds left to play. Oceanside answered 32 seconds later with a 70-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Sean Cooney to Walker Rhue that pushed the Landsharks ahead 21-20 at halftime.
Landsharks running back Keegan Williams had just 17 yards at the break, managing 2.4 yards per carry in the first half. But he e finished with 194 yards and four touchdowns, pushing his average to 9.4 yards per tote by the end of game.
Williams scored from 10 yards out to stretch Oceanside’s lead to 28-20 two minutes into the second half. He broke loose for a 77-yard score four minutes later that extended a 35-20 Landsharks advantage.
Matthew Williamson pulled Timberland within one score, 42-34, with a 2-yard touchdown run with five minutes to play. Williams countered with a 21-yard touchdown just over two minutes later that reopened a two-score cushion.
“My linemen were working tonight. I told them just keep being strong, give me a hole and I’ll work with it,” Williams said. “We knew we had this game going into the second half if we kept it up. We’ve worked hard for this. This program deserves this.”
Cooney finished with 325 yards and three touchdowns. He hit a 26-yard score to Joel Osteen on the final play of the third quarter that incited a wild celebration on the sidelines.
The first thing Oceanside ever won was a jamboree scrimmage against Timberland at Sertoma three years ago. Timberland coach Art Craig is the winningest coach in the area over the past 20 years. He has witnessed the Landsharks’ rise within the same region as the Wolves the past two years and was complimentary of their ascension.
“It was a heck of a game tonight,” Craig said. “They whopped our fannies fair and square. It was a good old-fashioned game. So we’ll go back to the drawing board and see what we can learn from this.”