Griffins Knock Pelion from Region Hunt

Joe Young rips through the Pelion defense. (photo/Joe Seibles)

Fairfield Central-42, Pelion-7

PELION – For the second consecutive week, the Fairfield Central Griffins took to the road to face a 2A-Region III contender; and for the second week in a row, the Griffins separated themselves from the pack, stating to the rest of the conference clearly and definitively that they belong in a region unto themselves as they trounced the Panthers of Pelion 42-7.

Although the Pelion defense stunted the potent Griffin ground game, holding Joseph Young to his lowest output since week one at Brookland-Cayce, the Fairfield passing game kept the chains moving, while special teams electrified once more on an 85-yard kick return for 6 by Josh Bell.

The Griffin defense, meanwhile, shut Shrine Bowler Freddie Phillips almost completely out of the game. Phillips accounted for only 5 net yards total on the night, 2 on the ground and 3 through the air – the Panthers’ only completion of the evening.

“(Phillips) is really more of a defensive player than an offensive player,” Griffins head coach Demetrius Davis said, “and they did some stuff – they took the run away. We couldn’t run the football tonight. They kind of overloaded in the box.”

With the run on ice, Griffins sophomore quarterback Stanley McManus lit up the Pelion defensive backfield, connecting on his first six pass attempts in a row. Two of those went long and into the end zone.

With the Griffins up 7-0 behind Young’s 10-yard run at the 8:41 mark in the first, and with the Griffin defense forcing the Panthers to punt into a short field on their ensuing possession, McManus and the Griffins took over at mid-field. Three snaps later, McManus aired it out to Nick Rikard – a 46-yarder that put Fairfield Central up 14-0 with 3:11 to go in the first quarter.

“He threw the ball well tonight,” Davis said. “He had a great night. Nick Rikard had some big catches. Montego Johnson had a big catch tonight. Shadarius Hopkins had some good balls, even though he didn’t get into the box tonight.”

Johnson got his hands on one late in the second quarter, a 42-yard McManus rocket that put the Griffins up 35-7 with 2:18 left in the half.

Down 14-0 in the waning minutes of the opening frame, Pelion mounted a drive that took them from their own 24 to their own 40 before time expired. They mopped it up early in the second quarter when Ervin Green broke a big run from the Pelion 46 down to the Griffin 9. From there, Deon Pulver hammered it home to cut the Griffin lead to 14-7.

But any hopes of a Panther rally were dashed on the ensuing kickoff, which Bell fielded at the Fairfield 15. Bell smashed into the wedge, bounced out and vanished into the horizon, extending the Griffins’ lead to 21-7 with 9:44 left in the second.

Byron Sampson snuffed out the Panthers’ following drive, picking off a Daniel Hawkins pass at the Pelion 45 and returning it to the 25. Sampson then rubbed in the salt on the Griffins’ second play from scrimmage, taking the end-around give from McManus, rounding the corner and dashing 29 yards for the score and the 28-7 lead with 7:23 left in the second. The McManus-Johnson linkup gave Fairfield the 35-7 halftime lead.

The second-half kickoff by Isias Leon was short, but soared into the lights. The Panthers couldn’t find the handle and the Griffins recovered at the Pelion 32. Three plays later, Young tasted the end zone with a scorching 26-yard run. Leon’s extra point accounted for the final tally at 42-7 with 10:43 left in the third. Leon was a perfect six of six on the night, and has evolved into a reliable PAT man for the Griffins.

“I don’t want to jinx him, but he hasn’t missed one since Chester,” Davis said. “The first game he ever played in was the first game he ever saw. That Monday was the first time he ever put a helmet on. All of it is starting to slow down for him a little bit. All he’s doing now is going in there and hitting it.”

The Griffins, now 4-0 in region play, have established themselves as the team to beat in Region III. But the team aiming to do just that is Keenan (4-1/6-2), who comes to Fairfield Central next Friday.

“Next week is going to be a big test,” Davis said. “Keenan is coming in 6-2. If they beat us they’ve got a chance to win the region.”

The Raiders are also coming off a bye week, having throttled Eau Claire 45-0 on Oct. 10.

“They’ve got skill guys everywhere,” Davis said. “They’ve got two quarterbacks that are good players. That (Kendric) Gathers guy is a good football player. The good news is we’re at home. If we can’t play football in Winnsboro, we can’t play anywhere.”

FC: 14-21-7-0 – 42

P: 0-7-0-0 – 7

Scoring

First Quarter

FC – Joseph Young 10 run (Isias Leon kick). 8:41.

FC – Nick Rikard 46 pass from Stanley McManus (I. Leon kick). 3:11.

Second Quarter

P – Deon Pulver 9 run (Nick Reeves kick). 10:00.

FC – Josh Bell 85 kick return (I. Leon kick). 9:44.

FC – Byron Sampson 29 run (I. Leon kick). 7:23.

FC – Montego Johnson 42 pass from S. McManus (I. Leon kick). 2:18.

Third Quarter

FC – J. Young 26 run (I. Leon kick). 10:43.

Team Stats

FC             P

First Downs                  7              8

Rushes/Yards           27-112      41-182

Passing Yards               152             3

C-A-I                            8-10-0       1-2-1

Fumbles/Lost               1-0            2-1

Penalties/Yards             6-45         2-10

Individual Stats

RUSHING: FC – Joseph Young 9-59, Josh Bell 1-(-6), Stanley McManus 2-5, Byron Sampson 1-29, Antonio Jackson 1-(-3), Jerrelll Suber-O’Neal 11-35, Markell Whitaker 2-(-7). P – Ervin Green 20-173, Freddie Phillips 6-2, Daniel Hawkins 6-1, Isaiah Jenkins 2-(-8), Deon Pulver 7-14.

RECEIVING: FC – Shadarius Hopkins 3-48, Nick Rikard 2-47, Markell Whitaker 1-16, Montego Johnson 1-42, Joseph Young 1-(-1). P – Freddie Phillips 1-3.

PASSING: FC – Stanley McManus 7-9, 139 yards, 2TD; Markell Whitaker 1-1, 13 yards. P – Daniel Hawkins 1-2, INT.

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