Dillon Dominates in Title Clash

 

In the shadow of his own goal posts, Fairfield Central’s Larry G. Bell looks for an escape route. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

 

DeAndre Belton’s pass to Kewaun Squirewell would ultimately be picked off by Dillon’s Omar McCollum (1). (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

COLUMBIA – Friday night’s much anticipated contest between the Fairfield Central Griffins and the Dillon Wildcats turned out to be no contest at all as the ‘Cats cashed in their second Class 2A/Division 1 title in as many years, pounding the Griffins 41-3 under the lights of Benedict College’s C.W. Johnson Stadium.

Dillon’s hulking defense put the chill on the Griffins’ offensive fireworks, holding the Fairfield rushing attack to a meager 98 total yards while picking off Griffin quarterback DeAndre Belton twice and keeping the passing game to just 122 yards. The Wildcat offense, meanwhile, proved to be the unstoppable force, led by Anthony Blue’s 159 rushing yards and quarterback Avery McCall’s three passing touchdowns and 164 yards through the air on just 12 attempts.

“It’s been a bad day. It’s been a total bad day,” Griffin head coach Demetrius Davis said after the Fairfield collapse. “They’re a good football team, but they’re not that much better than us. We just couldn’t make the plays when we needed to make the plays.”

The Griffins struggled with starting field position all night, beginning with the opening kick, which Compton Walker took at the goal line. Walker made it as far as the Fairfield 8 before being smothered by the Dillon coverage. The Wildcat defense limited the Griffins to one first down on the opening drive, forcing a punt from the Griffin 30. The partially blocked shot made it to the Dillon 42, and the ‘Cats were in business with the short field with 9:54 to go in the first quarter. Dillon then used 10 plays and 3 minutes and 51 seconds to open the lid as Damu Ford tilted the scoreboard from 15 yards out. Tara Grimsley’s kick made it 7-0 Dillon with 6:03 to play in the period.

The Griffins were thwarted on their next drive when, three plays in, Ford picked off Belton at the Griffin 43 and returned it to the 24. One play later, McCall launched a dart to Eri’Reon Hayes in the corner of the end zone to put Dillon up by two scores.

Fairfield’s first best opportunity came with just over 9 minutes to play in the second quarter when Byron Sampson recovered a C.J. Sowells fumble at the Dillon 9-yard line, setting the Griffins up with a first-and-goal. But the Dillon defense proved tougher than the Maginot Line, and on fourth-and-goal the Griffins had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Walker. It would be the only blemish against the Wildcat defense all night.

“In a state championship game, every play is magnified,” Davis said. “Every play is either there to help you or to hurt you, and momentum in the first half hurt us. At halftime, I really felt like we were going to come out and win this game. But I always tell you, the biggest time of the game is the last 5 minutes before that half and the first 5 minutes after the half. And we gave up 14 points in less than 2 minutes in that second half and we just couldn’t recover tonight.”

Indeed, Dillon poured it on in the opening minutes of the third, scoring on the second play of their first drive when McCall hit Hayes with a 69-yard rocket to go up 28-3. The Griffins showed life on their next possession, driving from their 20 to the Dillon 36, but on fourth-and-17, Belton was picked off in the end zone by Omar McCollum, who returned it to the Wildcat 6. The Griffins would get another gift when Sampson scooped up his second fumble of the night at the Dillon 4, setting up yet another first-and-goal. But four plays later, the Griffin offense was forced off the field by a tremendous Dillon goal-line stand.

“You’ve got to make those plays,” Davis said. “We told them all week, the team that makes the most plays is going to be the team that wins the football game. I feel really bad for these kids. I really wanted to get these guys a state championship. We’ve just got to get better; we’ve got to go back to the drawing board.

“Thirteen and 1, that’s a pretty good year,” Davis said, “but that one just came at the wrong time. When you set goals the way we set them, when you come up short, it hurts. But we’ll be back.”

 

FC – 0-3-0-0 – 3

D – 14 – 7 – 13 – 7 – 41

First Quarter

D – Damu Ford 15 run. Tara Grimsley kick. (6:03)

D – Eri’Reon Hayes 24 pass from Avery McCall. T. Grimsley kick. (4:39)

Second Quarter

FC – Compton Walker 27 FG. (7:46)

D – E. Hayes 57 pass from A. McCall. T. Grimsley kick. (2:38)

Third Quarter

D – E. Hayes 69 pass from A. McCall. T. Grimsley kick. (11:31)

D – Justin Cyprien 49 fumble return. Kick failed. (11:11)

Fourth Quarter

D – Anthony Blue 4 run. T. Grimsely kick. (10:56)

 

                                                FCHS                                      DHS

First Downs                        12                                           19

Rushes/Yards                    32-98                                     48-252

Passing Yards                     122                                         164

C-A-I                                      10-24-2                                 7-12-0

Fumbles/Lost                    3-2                                          2-2

Penalties/Yards                                0-0                                          3-13

Third Down Conv.            3-14                                       7-12

Fourth Down Conv.         0-3                                          1-2

 

RUSHING: FC – DeAndre Belton 16-54, Larry G. Bell 11-25, Tyren White 1-17, Joseph Young 3-2. D – Anthony Blue 26-156, Joe Blue 3-28, Avery McCall 10-28, Damu Ford 5-25.

RECEIVING: FC – Tavares Cook 4-25, Kewaun Squirewell 2-47, Javaris Cook 2-23, Compton Walker 1-22. D – Eri’Reon Hayes 4-157, C.J. Sowells 2-(-15), Jay Johnson 1-22.

PASSING: FC – DeAndre Belton 10-24, 122 yards, 2INT. D – Avery McCall 7-12, 164 yards, 3TD.

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