Griffins Batter Braves, Move to Title Tilt

 

Larry G. Bell (28) hammers out his second touchdown of the night to give the Griffins a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. (Photo/Joe Seibles)

CHERAW – The Fairfield Central Griffins punched their ticket to the final chapter of the 2013 football season Friday night, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first two minutes of play against the Cheraw Braves and never looking back. The Griffin defense stifled the run-heavy Braves and was good enough to make the first two scores of the game stand up on their own, stopping the Braves on fourth-and-short three times on the night as the Griffins pounded out a 37-13 win in the Class 2A/D1 Upper State championship.

The win vaults Fairfield into this Friday’s title game for the second year in a row.

“I felt like it was a big hump, last year, to get over,” Griffin head coach Demetrius Davis said. “This year, it’s kind of . . . it’s one more game we’ve got to do. We didn’t break down over the summer on Upper State championship. I hate to devalue that. Back to back Upper State championships, that’s pretty doggone good.”

Special teams again set the table for Fairfield, as Compton Walker took the opening kickoff at his own 25 and slashed into Cheraw territory, finally brought down at the Braves’ 33. On the first play from scrimmage, Larry G. Bell cashed it in. With Walker’s point after, the Griffins were up 7-0 in less than 30 seconds.

The Braves did themselves no favors, fumbling the ensuing kick at their own 23 where it was recovered by Josh Bell. It took the Griffins seven plays this time, but Larry G. Bell once again finished the deal, scoring from 5 yards out to capture the 14-0 lead.

Cheraw made their first foray into Griffin territory on their third possession, driving to the Fairfield 43 before coming up against a fourth-and-5. Feeling a little momentum, the Braves gambled and came up short, giving the ball over on downs at the Griffin 41.

With the Griffins up 21-0 on a 10-yard pass from DeAndre Belton to Tyren White midway through the second quarter, Cheraw mounted its most promising drive of the contest thus far, marching from their own 39 to the Fairfield 10. Once more the Griffin defense forced the Cheraw coaching staff to make a tough decision on fourth-and-1. With the clock winding down, Cheraw’s Mark Bowman came up shy of the marker by inches and the Griffins took the three-score lead into the locker room.

“Any time you can get them off the field, that’s big,” Davis said. “Those fourth downs, when we were able to hold them right before halftime, that was big.”

Holding the Braves out of the end zone before the half proved pivotal, as Cheraw put together a 79-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter. Although the point after attempt failed, Khalil Newton’s 5-yard run dented the scoreboard, making it 21-6.

“The most important part of a game is 5 minutes before halftime and 5 minutes after halftime,” Davis said. “We gave up a score after halftime, but our defense came to play. And we got some turnovers. Those turnovers were huge.”

The Griffin defense held the Braves on a fourth-and-1 once again with just over a minute to go in the third, setting up the Fairfield offense at the Cheraw 46. A 36-yard pass from Belton to Kewaun Squirewell set up a first-and-goal. Penalties set the Griffins back to their own 20, but Belton used the extra room to find White once more in the end zone to go up 27-6.

Cheraw fumbled away their next opportunity when Newton lost the handle near the Braves’ 33. Dustin Padgett was there to recover for Fairfield and Belton delivered the dagger on the Griffins’ first snap, hitting Javaris Cook with a 33-yard payday.

“(Belton) had been struggling a little bit these past couple of weeks throwing the ball, but I can only think of one bad ball he threw tonight,” Davis said. “I think he threw pretty good ball tonight.”

Indeed, Belton went 11 of 18 on the night for 168 yards and three TDs.

The Griffins now face a rematch of last year’s title game with a Friday night showdown with Dillon.

“We’ve got to have a good week and we’ve got to find a way to win this thing,” Davis said. “I don’t know how. I really don’t. I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we’ve got to do it. We really do.”

Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. at Benedict College’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in Columbia.

 

FC – 14-7-6-10 – 37

C – 0-0-6-7 – 13

First Quarter

FC – Larry G. Bell 33 run. Compton Walker kick. (11:39)

FC – L.G. Bell 5 run. C. Walker kick. (9:48)

Second Quarter

FC – Tyren White 10 pass from DeAndre Belton. C. Walker kick. (5:43)

Third Quarter

C – Khalil Newton 5 run. Kick failed. (6:14)

FC – T. White 20 pass from D. Belton. Kick blocked. (0:00)

Fourth Quarter

FC – Javaris Cook 33 pass from D. Belton. C. Walker kick. (10:51)

FC – C. Walker 21 FG. (5:51)

C – Teddy Gillespie 49 pass from Tristen Campbell. Michael Cranford kick. (0:27)

 

                                                                FC                                                           C

First Downs                                        11                                                           12

Rushes/Yards                                    36-158                                                   43-120

Passing Yards                                     168                                                         100

C-A-I                                                      11-18-0                                                 5-12-1

Fumbles/Lost                                    0-0                                                          4-2

Penalties/Yards                               15-94                                                     1-4

Third Down Conv.                            4-9                                                          4-12

Fourth Down Conv.                         0-0                                                          2-5

 

RUSHING: FC – Larry G. Bell 15-108, Joseph Young 10-20, DeAndre Belton 6-20, Devin Simmons 3-(-2), Randanion Sampson 2-12. C – Randall Watson 8-15, Khalil Newton 13-22, Mark Bowman 6-29, Baylen English 8-43, Robert Pitts 7-10, Darien Roseau 1-1.

RECEIVING: FC – Kewaun Squirewell 3-83, Tyren White 4-45, Joseph Young 1-4, Tavaris Cook 1-5, Javaris Cook 2-29. C – Baylen English 3-8, Demarcus McManus 1-43, Teddy Gillespie 1-49.

PASSING: FC – DeAndre Belton 11-18, 168 yards, 3 TDs. C – Robert Pitts 3-8, 45 yards, INT; Tristen Campbell 2-4, 55 yards, TD.

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