Griffins Blow Through North Central, Region III

Javin George (13) takes the pass from DeAndre Belton (3) and races for the end zone.

Griffins’ quarterback DeAndre Belton (3) steps into the end zone.

The Fairfield Central Griffins may not have had their strongest week on the practice field this week – at least to hear head coach Demetrius Davis tell the tale – and although the first half of football Friday night was rife with Griffin penalties, Fairfield Central nonetheless put Region III in their rear-view mirror with a convincing 57-6 beat-down of North Central.

“A lot of penalties,” Davis said, reflecting on the 98 total yards surrendered to the yellow flag, 88 of which came in the first half. “I think our kids kind of relaxed once we knew we had the region (with last week’s 56-0 win over Pelion). As coaches, we’ve got to do a better job of coaching them not to play a game, but to play to get better. But North Central beating Columbia last week (33-28) actually made our guys pay a little more attention, but we still didn’t have a good week of practice and it showed today.”

The win gives the Griffins an unblemished 5-0 region record and a first round bye in the Class AA state playoffs, which begin next week. Although the Griffins mostly cruised through Region III, Davis said he was not concerned about his team’s preparedness for tougher competition in the playoff bracket.

“We probably played one of the most difficult pre-region seasons than anybody in 2A,” Davis said. “We’ve been battle-tested. We’re still young, and our kids are just now getting to the stage where they understand what it takes to be successful.”

Indeed, the Griffins could be peaking at just the right time, and they showed it Friday night, in spite of the penalties.

The Fairfield defense set things in motion for the scoring frenzy Friday when Davon Pearson intercepted North Central’s Grayson King at the Knights’ 31-yard line, killing North Central’s opening drive and unleashing an offensive explosion that in five plays had the Griffins in a first-and-goal situation from the Knights’ 5. Penalties slowed them somewhat, but Griffin quarterback DeAndre Belton set those troubles aside with a 15-yard touchdown run. Compton Walker, who was perfect off the tee Friday, added the PAT to make it 7-0 Fairfield Central with 7:34 left in the first quarter.

The Knights were forced to punt away their next drive from their own 28 and the Griffins, starting from their own 14, used only five plays to take the ball to the North Central 31. On the sixth play of the drive, Belton hit George Javin with a 31-yard touchdown pass, and just like that, the Griffins were up by two scores.

Fairfield Central hung another 22 points on the Knights in the second quarter, beginning with a 48-yard screen pass from Belton to Damien Bell on the first play from scrimmage to start the period. Bell also brought home the 2-point conversion to make it 22-0 with 11:48 left in the half.

Although the Knights were able to get on the scoreboard with a 7-yard pass from King to Austin Furman with 3:23 to go, Bell answered with a 5-yard run with 36 seconds remaining to make it 29-6.

“We want to play fast,” Davis said. “We want to score fast. We’re trying to get as many snaps as we can get. We play up-tempo. Coach (Ryan) Sharpe – all of our offensive coaches – coach (Kenneth) Lathan, coach (Terrell) Roach, coach (Jay) Schiedermayer, do a good job of putting us in position to make some plays, and we’ve got some good players, too.”

Even the defense got a little taste of the blood before the clock expired in the first half when Kevin Bannister scooped up a William Jenkins fumble at the North Central 46 and hammered and diced his way into the end zone with 14 seconds remaining to give the Griffins a 36-6 first-half lead.

Fairfield Central took their opening possession of the second half and in five plays sent Bell into the end zone once more, this time from 25 yards out with 10:57 on the clock. Another fumble recovery by the Griffins, this one at the North Central 40, would put their final scoring drive of the third into place. It took only two plays, one of which was a spectacular catch by Kewaun Squirewell, who leapt over his defender and snatched Belton’s pass out of the air at the Knights’ 9-yard line. Larry G. Bell polished off the drive with the 9-yard touchdown run with 8:04 to go in the quarter. Belton would throw for 274 yards on the night while contributing 97 yards on the ground with the kind of speed that looked almost otherworldly, like a magic trick.

With no answer for the speed of the Griffins’ starting squad, the Knights also had little solution for the speed of the reserves who took the field mid-way through the third quarter. Piloted by sophomore Markelle Whittaker at quarterback, the Griffins second unit began the final scoring drive of the evening on their own 38. Whittaker, who rushed for 57 yards in a quarter and a half of play, led the Griffins to the North Central 2-yard line where sophomore Joseph Young capped the drive.

The Griffins enjoy a week of rest to get healthy for round two of the playoffs, at Fairfield Central on Nov. 9, when they will play the winner of the Pelion-Crescent game.

“We’re going to treat it as a regular week,” Davis said. “We’re going to practice. Instead of playing a game Friday night, I’ll give them Friday off, but we’ll be back in the office Saturday morning.”

 

FC 14-22-14-7  57

NC 0-6-0-0  6

First Quarter

FC – DeAndre Belton 15 run. Compton Walker kick. (7:34)

FC – Javin George 31 pass from D. Belton. C. Walker kick. (3:59)

Second Quarter

FC – Damien Bell 48 pass from D. Belton. D. Bell 2 pass from D. Belton. (11:48)

NC – Austin Furman 7 pass from Grayson King. Pass failed. (3:23)

FC – D. Bell 5 run. C. Walker kick. (0:36)

FC – Kevin Bannister 46 fumble return. C. Walker kick. (0:14)

Third Quarter

FC – D. Bell 25 run. C. Walker kick. (10:57)

FC – Larry G. Bell 9 run. C. Walker kick. (8:04)

Fourth Quarter

FC – Joseph Young 2 run. C. Walker kick. (10:30)

Team Stats

FC                           NC

First Downs        15                           7

Rushes/Yards    30-283                   29-64

Passing Yards     137                         40

C-A-INT-TD         11-14-0-2             5-12-1-1

Penalties/Yards                12-98                     3-25

Fumbles/Lost    2-1                          4-2

Individual Stats

RUSHING: FC – Damien Bell 12-60. DeAndre Belton 5-97. Larry G. Bell 1-17. Timothy Gieger 1-7. Miles Pearson 1-8. Joseph Young 2-1. Markell Whittaker 6-57. JaVon Neal 3-43. NC – Reggie Outten 8-13. Grayson King 4-7. William Jenkins 13-41. Willie Taylor 3-6. John Bowers 1-(-3).

PASSING: FC – DeAndre Belton 10-13-0INT-2TD 274 yards. Markell Whittaker 1-1-0-0 9 yards. NC – Grayson King 5-12-1INT-1TD 40 yards.

RECEIVING: FC – Javin George 2-33. Damien Bell 2-50. Larry G. Bell 1-3. Kewaun Squirewell 3-52. Raheim McDaniel 1-20. NC – Anthony Spinelli 1-7. Austin Furman 2-13. J.P. Faulkenberry 1-20.

Records: FC 5-0/8-2  NC 2-3/5-5

 

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