Griffins Air it Out in the Capital City

Fairfield Central’s Raheim McDaniel (7) delivers the knockout blow to Columbia quarterback Anthony Brown (5).

Damien Bell (9) finds another gear.

It may not have been the most attractive affair Friday night, but the Griffins of Fairfield Central were able to overcome some early mistakes and nail down their first region victory, 38-19 over Columbia at Memorial Stadium.

“That was ugly,” Griffin head coach Demetrius Davis said. “Very ugly. We dropped some balls that could have been touchdowns. Any time you have that, it puts you in a lull, but we were able to make plays when we needed and get a region win on the road against a pretty decent team.”

Dropped balls, a fumble and penalties vexed the Griffins throughout most of the first quarter, but Fairfield Central still managed to leap out in front of the Capitals 7-0 on a 4-yard run by Damien Bell, capping a nearly 2-minute drive that canvassed 86 yards of turf.

The Griffins extended their early lead in the waning minutes of the first period on a drive that began inside their own 30. Facing a second-and-10 from their own 29, quarterback DeAndre Belton broke free through the defensive line and, in an explosion of raw speed, rocketed 62 yards to the Columbia 9-yard line to set up first-and-goal. Penalties slowed them, but eventually Larry G. Bell hammered into the end zone from 14 yards out to put the Griffins up 14-0.

But the Caps were not going to roll over so quickly.

On their second possession of the second quarter, Columbia quarterback Anthony Brown hit Diante Petruso with a 28-yard scoring strike to cut the Griffins’ lead in half. The Capital defense then put a squeeze on the Griffin running game, forcing Fairfield Central to test the arm of their young quarterback.

Belton would put the ball in the air 23 times Friday night, collecting a season-high 215 yards.

“We had to,” Davis said. “They were putting eight in the box. They were committed to stopping the run. They were not going to let us run the football tonight. To score, we knew we had to throw it.”

And score they did.

The next Griffin drive was set up with a 50-yards kickoff return by Bell to the Columbia 35. The Griffins converted on a fourth-and-4 and a 22-yard pass from Belton to Kewaun Squirewell set the Griffins up with a first-and-goal from the 6. Penalties and a stiffened Capital defense set the Griffins back, and by the time they had fought their way back to the original line of scrimmage, it was fourth-and-goal. But Belton found Raheim McDaniel in the back of the end zone to up the ante to 20-7.

The Capitals had cut into the lead once again, making it 24-13 with only 24.7 seconds to play in the half. But just as Columbia was poised to take a momentum swing into the locker room, the Griffins applied the gas.

Damien Bell again set up the offense with a 59-yard kick return to the Columbia 35. And on the first play from scrimmage, Belton nailed Squirewell with a touchdown strike to put the Griffins up 26-13 at the break.

“It feels good to know we’ve got that dimension now where we can throw it,” Davis said. “The biggest play of the game was that deep ball we hit to Kewaun Squirewell right before the half. I think the most important part of a game is the last 5 minutes before the half and the first 5 minutes after the half, and I think that gave us a momentum boost right there.”

Belton would light it up twice more before the final buzzer, both times to Keith Workman. Workman’s first was a 29-yarder with 6:29 left in the third; his second, a 23-yard toss with 7:59 to go in the fourth.

Columbia’s final effort came late in the third on a 14-yard run by Brown.

“We kind of felt going in, every game would count,” Davis said. “Columbia High is a quality team and to get it on the road I think helps. We only have one more road region game (Keenan). I’m hoping we’ll get a good crowd at home and play pretty well at home these next four weeks.”

FCHS  —  14-12-6-6  38

CHS  — 0-13-6-0  19

First Quarter

FC – Damien Bell 4 run. Compton Walker kick. (7:12)

FC – Larry G. Bell 14 run. Walker kick (:39.6)

Second Quarter

CHS – Diante Petruso 28 pass from Anthony Brown. James Henderson kick. (7:01)

FC – Raheim McDaniel 6 pass from DeAndre Belton. Kick failed. (3:26)

CHS – Julius Mack 18 pass from Brown. PAT failed. (:24.7)

FCHS – Kewaun Squirewell 35 pass from Belton. PAT failed. (:03.8).

Third Quarter

FC – Keith Workman 29 pass from Belton. Kick failed. (6:29)

CHS – Brown 14 run. PAT failed. (1:12)

Fourth Quarter

FC – Workman 23 pass from Belton. PAT failed. (7:59)

Team Stats

FCHS              CHS

First downs                11                  15

Fumbles/Lost            3/2              1/1

Penalties/yards        13-125           8-55

Rushes/yards          38-192           29-60

Passing yards              215                204

C-A-I-TD                 13-25-0-4                23-38-2-2

Individual Stats

RUSHING: FC – D. Bell 15-48. L.G. Bell 9-52. D. Belton 7-80. J. Young 3-13. G. Javin 1-(-1). J. Neal 1-(-2). CHS – Q. McMillan 7-16. A. Brown 16-26. L. Gilmore 6-18.

RECEIVING: FC – T. White 4-28. K. Squirewell 4-78. D. Bell 1-47. J. Cook 2-7. R. McDaniel 1-7. K. Workman 2-52. CHS – J. Mack 8-32. Q. McMillan 2-11. W. Gossette 6-95. L. Gilmore 4-27. D. Petruso 3-38.

PASSING: FC – D. Belton 13-24-0INT-4TD-215 yds. C. Walker 0-1-0-0. CHS – A. Brown 23-38-2INT-2TD.

Records: FCHS – 4-2/1-0. CHS – 1-5/0-1.