Griffins Blank Keenan in Ugly Region Showdown

Fairfield Central’s Chris Boyd (15) scoops up a Keenan fumble on the first play from scrimmage. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

WINNSBORO – In a game that was made painfully long by an officiating crew that turned a debacle into a farce, Fairfield Central slammed the door on the second best team in 2A Region III, bouncing the Keenan Raiders 38-0 at E.K. McLendon Stadium Friday night.

While the Griffins amassed 331 yards with their punishing ground game and flung nearly 200 yards through the air, 17 penalties – some of the bizarre and unexplained nature – cost Fairfield 150 yards on the night. The night was also marred by uncharacteristically loose play by the Griffin offense, with quarterback DeAndre Belton – who had been flawless coming into Friday’s contest – throwing three interceptions. One Pick, snatched early in the fourth quarter by Keenan’s Jordan Reid after the ball ricocheted off Kewaun Squirewell’s shoulder pads in the end zone, spared the Raiders of a 44-0 deficit. The other, plucked out of the air by Keenan’s Kendrick Gathers at the Raider 9-yard line early in the second quarter, also cost the Griffins a potential score.

“Hopefully this was our Clemson vs. Boston College game and we got it out of the way,” Griffin head coach Demetrius Davis said. “Our past couple of games we’ve been done by 9:30. It (penalties) just made the game so much longer and you risk somebody getting hurt.”

In spite of the ragged play, the glut of penalties (24 total) and a game that bumped up against the three-hour mark, the Griffins mastered Keenan, keeping the Raiders’ top rushing threat, Peter Easaw, at bay while doing so. Easaw, who was averaging 6.3 yards per carry coming into Friday night, was held to a meager 26 yards on 17 carries, with 7 additional yards on a single reception.

“(Easaw) can beat you and our focus was to make sure he didn’t beat us,” Davis said. “That’s why we did some things in the kicking game to limit his touches. And defensively I think we got after him pretty good.”

The Griffins either squibbed every kickoff opportunity or angled the ball out of bounds, taking their chances by giving Keenan field position at their own 35 rather than risk a breakout return from the dangerous running back. The gambit paid off, and the crushing Griffin defense swallowed the Keenan running game, limiting the Raiders to just 79 total yards on the ground.

The opening kick proved truly baffling, as what appeared to be a Keenan turnover at their own 41 was overruled after a 15 minute conference among the officiating crew, giving the Raiders possession. But the Football Gods made things right on Keenan’s first snap as Tiski Gray fumbled the ball back into the arms of Shadarius Hopkins, who returned it to the Raiders’ 37. Two plays later, Belton hit Tyren White down the near sideline for a quick 6. Compton Walker’s kick put the Griffins up 7-0 with 10:35 to go in the first quarter.

The Griffins took their next possession at the Keenan 37 after an anemic Raider punt with 8:12 on the clock. A 37-yard throwback from Joseph Young to Belton was called back to the Keenan 44, but the Griffins went right back to work. Riding the legs of Young and Larry G. Bell, Fairfield was quickly at the Keenan 24. Belton found Tavaris Cook with a 12-yard rope on a third-and-7 and Bell hammered it down to the 5. Belton looked to have a lane into the end zone on the next snap, but was stopped at the Raider 3. Bell then needed only two more touches to put the dagger in, upping the ante to 13-0 with 4:53 left in the opening period.

“I thought Larry Bell and Joe Young ran the ball hard tonight,” Davis said. “I think they did a great job.”

Bell finished the night with 124 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Young knocked down 114 yards and two touchdowns on only eight touches.

“If we can keep doing that we’ll have a chance,” Davis said. “Any time you can run the football and play good defense, you’ve got a chance to win.”

While the Keenan offense continued to bounce off the Griffins’ defensive wall, Fairfield plugged away. On their next possession, taking over at their own 45 with 3:08 to play in the first, the Griffins quickly found themselves at mid-field. Penalties and miscues took the Griffins back to their own 31, but a penalty against the Raiders marked the ball off at the Fairfield 36. Facing a second-and-19, Belton hooked up with Javaris Cook down to the Raider 35 for a first down. Bell then burst through the Keenan defense to the Raider 7, but a penalty brought the Griffins back to the 39. At last, Young broke out, flashing in from 39 yards out and a 19-0 lead with 1:48 to go. The Griffins were unusually inconsistent with their 2-point attempts, going 0-4 after Walker’s first point after kick.

Although the Griffins, leading 19-0 after one long, arduous quarter of play, were held out of the end zone on their first possession of the second quarter – thwarted by Gathers’ interception – on their second drive of the quarter they made good. But not without some minor drama.

Facing a fourth-and-10 from their own 49, the Griffins brought out the punting unit for the first and only time of the night. Walker pulled down the snap, tucked the ball and mashed his way to the Keenan 39 for a first down. Five plays later, Young struck again, muscling his way in for the score from 11 yards out to give the Griffins a 25-0 lead with 7:23 left in the half.

The Griffins put their final points of the half on the board on their next possession, which began at their own 31 with 4:49 left on the clock. This time Belton capped off the 10-play, three-and-a-half minute drive with an 8-yard run that saw the Griffins’ signal caller squirt and weave through the Keenan defensive front like a water bug on rippling water. The 2-point conversion attempt fell short once more, giving the Griffins a 31-0 halftime lead.

Fairfield Central took the opening possession of the second half at their own 23, their worst starting field position of the night. Bell took the first handoff and thundered to the Keenan 40. Two plays later, Belton hit Squirewell at the Keenan 30 and Young carried them to the 20. Young broke free on the next snap, taking the give down to the Raiders’ 1-yard line. The offense was thrown for a loss on the next snap, back to the Keenan 3, but Bell drove it home on the next play for the score. Walker, back in form, nailed the point after kick for the 38-0 final.

The Griffins travel to Pelion next week for their first road trip since Union County on Sept. 20. With Keenan now dealt their first region blow of the season, Pelion, at 3-0 in region play, is the next best Region III threat. The Panthers banged up the Capitals in Columbia Friday night, 39-15, running their overall record to 5-3. Last year, the Griffins hammered Pelion 56-0 in Winnsboro. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

 

KHS – 0-0-0-0 – 0

FCHS – 19-12-7-0 – 38

First Quarter

FC – Tyren White 38 pass from DeAndre Belton. Compton Walker kick. (10:35)

FC – Larry G. Bell 2 run. Pass failed. (4:53)

FC – Joseph Young 39 run. Pass failed. (1:48)

Second Quarter

FC – J. Young 11 run. Kick failed. (7:23)

FC – D. Belton 8 run. Pass failed. (1:15)

Third Quarter

FC – L.G. Bell 3 run. C. Walker kick. (9:52)

 

KHS                                        FCHS

First Downs                                        11                                           22

Rushes/Yards                                    39-79                                     47-331

Passing Yards                                     25                                           195

C-A-I                                                      4-13-1                                   12-20-3

Fumbles/Lost                                    5-2                                          2-0

Penalties/Yards                                                7-55                                       17-150

Third Down Conv.                            2-10                                       5-8

Fourth Down Conv.                         0-1                                          2-2

 

RUSHING: KHS – Deion Trezevant 5-8, Tiski Gray 13-36, Peter Easaw 11-26, Kendrick Gathers 3-7, Tyreke Ashford-Jones 1-2. FCHS – Tony Johnson 1-6, Javaris Cook 2-6, Darien Cloud 1-0, DeAndre Belton 7-36, Jerrell Suber-O’Neal 1-27, Larry G. Bell 22-124, Randanion Sampson 2-0, Joseph Young 8-114, Dustin Padgett 1-(-2), Compton Walker 1-12, Jared Ashford 1-8.

RECEIVING: KHS – Kendrick Gathers 1-(-3), Jordan Reid 1-18, Peter Easaw 1-7, Jalon Wilson 2-3. FCHS – Javaris Cook 3-37, Joseph Young 1-7, Tavaris Cook 3-26, Tyren White 1-38, Devin Simmons 1-(-1), Larry G. Bell 1-48, Kewaun Squirewell 3-40.

PASSING: KHS – Deion Trezevant 4-13, 25 yards, 1 INT. FCHS – DeAndre Belton 12-20, 195 yards, 3 INT, 1 TD.

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