Griffins Topple Knights in Region Finale, Set Sights on Postseason

Joseph Young levels a North Central defender and head for the end zone. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

KERSHAW – The rain may have fallen on Deandre Belton Friday night at North Central, but in the Class 2A playoff brackets, the sun is shining on the senior quarterback and his Griffins as they try to mount a return to the state championship game.

Belton, who came into Friday’s game 76-for-124 for 1,325 yards and 11 TDs on the season, had just five runs for 33 yards and 28 yards passing in a rain-soaked 19-0 shutout of North Central.

“It was a sloppy game, but in games like this, what matters are fundamentals,” Belton said. “We had some bad turnovers and we need to limit those. We’re going to work hard on those next week.”

North Central finishes the season 3-7, 0-5.

The Region III champion Griffins (10-0, 5-0) have a first-round bye in the playoffs, which start Friday. They fell to Dillon in the final game last year, but Belton and the Griffins know they have to work to return.

“We know they (Dillon) might make a run too,” Belton said. “But we’ve got to make a run too, and that’s why we work hard every week.”

Fairfield Central head coach Demetrius Davis said his main job from now through the playoffs is keeping his team focused and grounded.

“It’s going to be tough,” Davis said. “We’re just going to have to take it one game at a time. We can’t take it for granted that we finished the season 10-0. Everybody’s 0-0 now.”

As for the North Central matchup, it’s in the books as far as the Griffins are concerned.

“We could have played better,” Davis said. “In these kinds of conditions, you take it. They were able to do some things to us to where we couldn’t throw the football, and I didn’t want to run him (Belton) all around a whole lot.”

Fairfield Central didn’t need an overflowing offense anyway.

The Griffins got two touchdown runs of 3 and 33 yards from Joseph Young. Compton Walker returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown at the 6-minute mark of the second quarter.

The lead could have easily been 30 points or more. Young’s lost fumble inside the North Central 5-yard line in the first quarter, as well as Jay Parks’ pickoff of a second-quarter Belton pass in the end zone, prevented the game from being a blowout by intermission.

In the second half, Fairfield Central only mustered 44 yards on the ground and in the air.

“There were some things we could have done,” Davis said, “but to be honest with you, once we got up 19-0, we just really wanted to get out of here.”

The Griffins defense held firm, holding the Knights to just 23 yards on the ground, 13 through the air, and three first downs. North Central had seven punts and two turnovers on the night. North Central’s leading rusher, William Jenkins, had 28 yards on 25 carries.

“Our plan was to slow it down, frustrate them, keep the ball out of their hands,” said North Central head coach Louis Clyburn. “Their defense is so fast and our speed on the outside kills us, but this team doesn’t quit. We did a great job of not making mistakes, not playing sloppy.”

Keeping people healthy before a playoff run was what the Griffins had in mind.

“To be honest, I told the kids that if there’s a way could come in and win 2-0, we’d move on,” said Davis. “Our main goal in this game was to come in and not get anybody hurt.”

None of Belton’s main targets or options saw much time. Young finished the night with 107 yards and two scores on 16 carries. Larry G. Bell leads the Griffins in rushing yards with 641 yards and 13 touchdowns on 115 attempts, but was held to just 73 yards Friday night. Kewaun Squirewell, who leads the team with 22 catches for 394 yards and four touchdowns, had two catches for 14 yards Friday. Still, just having those players on his side keeps Belton’s motor running.

“It’s great having them around me,” Belton said. “They like challenges just like I do. They go hard. They encourage me a lot and I encourage them too. It’s good having fun with that type of caliber players.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fairfield Central       13        6          0          0          —          19

North Central            0          0          0          0          —          0

First Quarter

F – Joseph Young 3 run (Compton Walker kick) 7:58

F – Young 33 run (kick failed) 1:40

Second Quarter                                                                 

F – Walker 85 punt return (pass failed) 6:00

 

FCHS                            NCHS

First Downs                 14                               3

Rushes-Yards               38-236                         34-23

Passing Yards              28                                            13

C-A-I                                        4-9-1                            2-8-1

Fumbles-Lost               2-2                                           2-1

Penalties-Yards                       5-40                                         1-5

Punts-Avg.                   2-22.5                          7-36.1

 

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – FC: Young 16-107, Bell 10-73, Belton 5-33, Neil 4-11, Sampson 3-12. NC: Jenkins 25-28, Parks 3-2, Wyant 6-(-7).

PASSING – FC: Belton 8-4-1, Whittaker 0-1-0. NC: Wyant 7-2-1, Jenkins 0-1-0.

RECEIVING – FC: Squirewell 2-14, Cook 2-14. NC: Barnes 1-7, Ostas 1-6.