Charleston pulls away from McGehee

CHARLESTON — No. 1-ranked Charleston got a stiff challenge from McGehee in its second-round matchup on Friday — at least for a half.

Charleston led only 7-0 at the break, but scored three quick touchdowns in the third quarter on the way to a 27-6 win in the 3A state playoffs. Charleston (12-0) will play defending 3A champ and No. 2-ranked Harding Academy in the quarterfinals in Searcy next week.

“I said all along that McGehee was the best No. 3 seed in the bracket,” Charleston coach Greg Kendrick said. “They are a tough matchup. They moved the ball on us, but our defense stepped up when it had to and got some big stops.”

Four times in the game, McGehee went for it on fourth down and the Owls came up short all four times. The stops helped Charleston get some short fields and blow open what was a close game statistically.

McGehee gave Charleston fits for most of the first half. The Owls drove down into the Tiger red zone in the second quarter, but Charleston’s defense sacked the McGehee quarterback on fourth down at the 11. The offense then marched 89 yards for the first score. Austin Pittman took a pass and ran for a 42-yard touchdown that made it 7-0 with 9:02 left in the second quarter.

That score held until the halftime break.

Charleston came out strong after the break. The Tigers scored in three plays with Pittman taking a 21-yard touchdown pass that put Charleston up 14-0 with 10:59 left in the third.

Charleston got the ball on a short field on another fourth-down stop and quarterback Ty Storey ran in a 1-yard run that made it 21-0 with 6:13 left in the third.

Those third quarter scores were set up by some consistent designed runs by Storey, who had minus-32 yards rushing at one point from sacks but finished in positive yardage and had runs of 9 and 8 yards to pick up key first downs.

“We don’t like to run Ty a lot, but we knew we would have to run him at some point,” Kendrick said. “He’s a big strong guy and can pick up that first down when we need it.”

Storey finished 16-of-32 with two touchdowns and one interception for 266 yards. Pittman had seven catches for 142 yards and scored two touchdowns.

“We had some dropped balls and we just didn’t execute very well in the first half,” Kendrick said. “We’ve got some things we are going to work on.”

A 7-yard touchdown pass from Storey to Chance Shelby made it 27-0 after three quarters.