Top-ranked Charleston got a stiff challenge from McGehee in their second-round playoff 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 champion and No. 2-ranked Harding Academy in the quarterfinals at 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, McGehee went for it on fourth down and came up short all four times. The stops helped Charleston get some short fields and blow open a statistically close game.
McGehee gave Charleston fits for most of the first half. The Owls drove down into the Charleston red zone in the second quarter, but the Tigers defense sacked the McGehee quarterback on fourth down at the Tiger 11. The offense then marched the 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 in the second quarter.
That score held until the half ended.
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 after another fourth-down stop and quarterback Ty Storey ran in a 1-yard run that made it 21-0 with 6:13 in the third.
Those third quarter TDs were set up by some designed runs for Storey. Storey had minus-32 rushing yards at one point from sacks but finished in positive yardage. He also had runs of nine and eight 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 passing 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."
SUMMARY — No. 1 Charleston scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to blow open a 7-0 halftime lead.
TURNING POINT — The Charleston defense made a goal-line stand and the offense drove 89 yards for a touchdown that made it 7-0 at the half.
STAT — McGehee completed only one pass.
Charleston 0 7 20 0 — 27
McGehee 0 0 0 6 — 6
Cha — Pittman 42 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 9:02.
Cha — Pittman 21 pass from Storey (Taggart kick), 10:59.
Cha — Storey 1 run (Taggart kick), 6:13.
Cha — Shelby 7 pass from Storey (kick failed) :41.
McG — Grant 9 run (run failed), 1:35.
First Downs 15 15
Rushes-Yards 42-209 16-45
Passing Yards 23 266
Comp-Att-Int 1-8-1 16-32-1
Penalties-Yards 4-20 3-25
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-1
RUSHING — McGehee, Parker 14-81, Shepard 14-63, Snider 5-36, Grant 3-19, Handey 1-8, Berry 3-6, McGraw 2 (-14). Charleston, Pittman 4-34, Storey 12-11.
PASSING — McGehee, Snider 1-7-1 23. Charleston, Storey 12-27-1 266.
RECEIVING — McGehee, Barnes 1-23. Charleston, Pittman 3-142, King 5-62, Shelby 3-46, Ward 1-16.