Griffins Set Capitals Ablaze

Fairfield Central’s Shadarius Hopkins (6) got the score-fest rolling Friday night, returning the opening kickoff 82 yards for the score. (Photo/Joe Seibles)

COLUMBIA – The Fairfield Central Griffins (5-1, 2-0) kept the good times rolling Friday night when they ran through the Capitals of Columbia (0-6, 0-2), 51-8.

Still winless, Columbia’s only score came in the fourth quarter when the defense recovered a bad snap by Fairfield and took it to the house. The fumble recovery broke what would have been the Griffins’ fourth shutout of the season.

That lone goof was still under Demetrius Davis’ skin despite the blowout win.

“We’re getting there,” the head coach said after the game. “But I hate that we gave up that touchdown at the end.”

Fairfield’s D is giving up just under 10 points per game. Against Columbia, the Griffins held the Capitals to a minimal 2.2 yards per play. Columbia’s triple-option rushing attack was as barren as the Sahara Desert against Fairfield Central.

“I felt like we stoned it (the triple-option),” Davis said. “We gave up a couple of plays, but defensively it would have been our fourth shutout of the year. Any time a defense has a chance to hold an opponent to zero points, you have to reward those guys with that.”

Fairfield Central wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Shadarius Hopkins found a gaping hole on the opening kickoff coverage and bolted 82 yards for the score. It was Hopkins’ second kick return for a touchdown this season and earned him WLTX’s “Play of the Week” honors.

A rough start would get even worse for the Capitals when they fumbled at their own 13-yard line halfway through the first quarter. Chad Sampson recovered the loose ball and gave the Griffins possession at the Columbia 8-yard line. Three plays later, the Griffins would score when Joe Young battered his way over the right side from 3 yards out.

After one quarter of play Fairfield led 14-0 and would begin to pour it on in the second quarter. At the 10-minute mark, Stanley McManus found Nick Rikard manned up in single coverage and lobbed a ball up to the 6-foot-2 senior. Rikard out-jumped and out-muscled the defender for the ball and came down with the touchdown.

“He’s a heck of a football player,” Davis commended Rikard after the game. “And he is going to get better as the year goes on.”

Halfway through the second quarter, the Griffins reached deep into their bag of tricks when Markell Whitaker caught a screen pass and then rifled a 28-yard touchdown pass to Montego Johnson. According to Davis, the wide-receiver screen pass is just another one of the many plays opponents will have to prepare for when facing the Griffins.

“We like to have at least one trick play per game,” he said. “The kids enjoy it and it keeps the defense on its heels. Everybody that watches this film for the rest of the year will have to prepare for that play. There is a method to our madness.”

At the half, the Griffins led 30-0.

The halftime speech was of little to no help for the Capitals, because they went three-and-out on their opening drive and then on fourth down snapped the ball over the punter’s head. Jeff Russell scooped it up for the Griffins and scored. It was Russell’s second fumble recovery for a touchdown in as many games.

After the game, Davis complimented his defense’s tenacity and preparation.

“My defensive staff is a doggone good staff,” Davis said. “When we put that staff together we knew that we basically had four guys on that side of the ball that could all be the coordinator. And plus we’ve got some good player over there, so those two things are why our defense is playing so good right now.”

The Griffins kept their foot on the gas pedal as the third quarter came to a close, when Young broke free for his second touchdown of the night. Young found an alley on the left side and then put a “Heisman Trophy” stiff arm on a defender to score from 66 yards away.

Rikard also made another appearance in the end zone when he took a screen pass 61 yards for score. Rikard finished with two catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Fairfield will have a bye this week, but Davis told his players after the game Friday that it is not an off week.

“You just don’t have a game this week,” he told his players in his postgame speech.

A perfectly placed bye week will allow the Griffins an extra week to get healthy and prepare for one of the region’s top contenders – Newberry.

“Newberry will be by far our biggest game of the year,” Davis said Friday night. “This is a team that will be locked and loaded and ready for us.”

Newberry is 4-1 this season and most recently defeated Eau Claire 56-0 and played at Keenan (5-1, 3-0) Friday night, but scores were unavailable at press time. Newberry’s lone loss came on Sept. 19 to Broome by a score of 41-27.

Scoring

FC: 14-16-14-7 — 51

CH: 0-0-0-8 — 8

First Quarter

FC – Shadarius Hopkins 82 kick return (Isias Leon kick). 11:47

FC – Joe Young 3 run (Isias Leon kick). :07

Second Quarter

FC – Nick Rickard 30 pass from Stanley McManus (Isias Leon kick). 9:52

FC – Team safety 6:41

FC – Montego Johnson 28 pass from Markell Whitaker (Isias Leon kick). 5:53

Third Quarter

FC – Jeff Russell 12 fum rec. (Isias Leon kick) 9:37

FC – Joe Young 66 run (Isias Leon kick) :06

Fourth Quarter

CH – Louis Wilson 15 fum rec. (Wayne Brown 3 pass from Mike Williams) 7:04

FC – Nick Rikard 61 pass from Markell Whitaker (Isias Leon kick) 5:14

Team Stats

                                      FC            CH

First Downs                 2             10

Total Yards                  261        111

Rushes/Yards 1       4-126     40-105

Passing Yards            135          6

C-A-INT               4-8-0           5-8-0

Penalties/Yards   7-75           4-40

Fumbles/Lost        2-1           4-2

Individual Stats

RUSHING: FC – J. Young 8-119, J. Suber-O’Neal 3-9, S. McManus 3-(-2). CH – R.Taylor 9-27, M. Williams 15-28, K. Shaw 10-29, W. Brown 3-17, N. Miller 2-3, J. Kinlaw 1-1.

PASSING: FC – S. McManus 2-6, 46 yards, 1 TD; M. Whitaker 2-2, 89 yards, 2 TD. CH – M. Williams 5-8, 6 yards.

RECEIVING: FC – N. Rikard 2-91, B. Sampson1-16, M. Johnson 1-28. CH – K. Shaw 1-5, W. Brown 1-1.

 

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