Griffins Spoil Redhawks’ Debut

Damien Bell (1) turns the corner in the first quarter Friday night.Compton Walker (4) breaks up a Westwood pass.

Winning pretty isn’t everything. Winning is.

The Griffins proved that Friday night, overcoming 120 yards in penalties and less than 60 yards in the air to extend a cool welcome to high school football to the first-year Westwood Redhawks, 34-7 in Winnsboro.

“I thought our kids came out and did the things we knew we had to do,” Griffins’ head coach Demetrius Davis said. “I thought we blocked them pretty good up front. To have the penalties we had, that’s the one thing I would say was a negative for us. It’s early, and it goes back to having a bunch of guys who played their first varsity game tonight on offense.”

It took that Griffin offense three possessions to get cranking, but once they did they made a night of it, dicing up the Redhawks’ defense for 323 yards on the ground. The Griffin defense, while giving up 163 yards to a pass-happy Westwood offense that chucked the ball around 41 times, stifled the ‘Hawks ground game, holding them to an anemic 32 yards.

Davis said he was happy with his defense, which set their first score in motion when Raheim McDaniel recovered a Westwood fumble on the Redhawks’ 36-yard line. Rookie quarterback DeAndre Belton piloted the Griffins down to the Westwood 2 where workhorse Damien Bell hammered the ball into the end zone for his first of three rushing touchdowns on the night with 4:42 left on the clock in the first quarter. Bell would rack up 132 yards on the ground before the night was over.

“I thought we played good defense,” Davis said. “(Westwood quarterback Davis King) throws it around pretty good, but we were prepared for it.”

The defense came to the fore again on the next Westwood possession, capitalizing on a high snap to the Redhawks’ punter deep in Westwood territory. As Redhawk punter Raymond Hall scrambled for the loose ball, Antonio Lewis and Nick Goins closed in. Once Hall found the handle, his options were limited. Wisely, he pitched the ball out of the back of the end zone to give the Griffins the safety and the 8-0 lead with 3:01 remaining in the first.

The Griffins took the free kick at the Westwood 33 and, overcoming three costly penalties, ground the ball down to the Westwood 5. From there, Bell pounded it in again to put the Griffins up 15-0 after Compton Walker’s PAT.

The Westwood offense remained on the ropes for much of the first half, and the Griffins appeared to be making it a runaway, going up 21-0 on a 9-yard pass from Belton to Keith Workman with 4:27 left in the second quarter. But the ‘Hawks spoiled the shutout on their next possession, taking the ball from their own 16 and splitting the seams in the Griffin secondary to the Fairfield 11. From there, King hit Adonus Lee with a touchdown pass into the corner of the end zone and the PAT by Brandon Howard cut the lead to 21-7 with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Griffins, however, put the kibosh on any thoughts Westwood may have had at a second-half comeback, holding the Redhawks scoreless for the remainder of the game while tacking on two more touchdowns to seal the deal.

Damien Bell added his third touchdown of the night with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter, this time from 3-yards out, capping a drive that began on the Fairfield 35 late in the third quarter.

With 7:38 left in the game and trailing 27-7, the Redhawks called an unusual play on fourth-and-14 from their own 37. Rolling the dice, Westwood called for the fake punt, which the Griffin defense sniffed out, taking over on downs at the Redhawk 29.

It was a gamble that proved costly to the ‘Hawks, as Larry G. Bell took the handoff from Belton on the first Griffin snap following the turnover and dashed 29 yards for the final score of the game.

“I was happy with our running game,” Davis said. “Larry Bell had a big run right there in the third quarter that was huge. He went straight up the gut untouched. I’m happy for him. Damien played a great game, and my hat goes off to the guys up front. They blocked some guys tonight.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Davis added, “but I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week.”

Next week the Griffins travel to Abbeville to face the defending Class A state champions, playing this year in Class 2A.

“We go to Abbeville next week, and the biggest improvement a team makes is between their first game and their second game,” Davis said. “We’re going to be in here in the morning at 9 o’clock, make our adjustments from this game, and by 12 o’clock tomorrow, we’ll be working on Abbeville.”

FCHS – 15-6-0-13  34

WHS – 0-7-0-0    7

First Quarter

FC – D. Bell 2 run. Kick failed. (4:45)

FC – A. Lewis 9 safety (3:01)

FC – D. Bell 5 run. C. Walker kick. (1:43)

Second Quarter

FC – K. Workman 9 pass from D. Belton. Kick failed. (4:27)

WHS – A. Lee 11 pass from D. King. B. Howard kick. (:30)

Fourth Quarter

FC – D. Bell 3 run. Kick failed. (9:19)

FC – L.G. Bell 29 run. Walker kick. (7:38)

Records: FCHS: 1-0/0-0 WHS: 0-1/0-0

Team Stats

FC                           WHS

First downs         12                           13

Rushes/Yards    40-323                   19-32

Comp/Att/Int    10-16-0                 23-41-0

Pass yards           56                           163

Fumbles/Lost    3-1                          5-1

Penalties/Yds    14-120                   5-25

Individual Stats

RUSHING – FC: D. Bell 18-132. D. Belton 8-66. C. Jones 1-34. R. Goodwin 1-(-3). L.G. Bell 6-68. WHS: M. Canady 11-30. T. Gallman 5-21. D. King 3 (-22). J. Jenkins 1-3.

PASSING – FC: D. Belton 10-16. 56 yards. 0 INT. 1 TD. WHS: D. King 23-41. 163 yards. 0 INT. 1 TD. D. Williams 0-1. 0 INT.

RECEIVING – FC: C. Jones 2-11. T. Cook 5-16. J. Cook 1-9. J. Neal 1-8. K. Workman 1-9. WHS: V. Smith 9-76. T. Gallman 3-33. M. Canady 1-3. D. Jackson 2-11. A. Lee 4-37. J. Jenkins 1-2.