Defense, Special Teams Catapult Griffins Over Rebels

Tony Ruff (29) cuts back against Mid-Carolina. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

Tony Ruff (29) cuts back against Mid-Carolina. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

POMARIA – Had you left Mid-Carolina Stadium at halftime Friday to run some errands, returning mid-way through the third quarter to catch the second half, you might have been convinced you had taken the legendary ‘Wrong Turn at Albuquerque,’ walking into a different stadium to see two completely different teams.

Gridlocked at 0-0 at the break, the scoreless duel slogged on between Fairfield Central and the Mid-Carolina Rebels until the 6:51 mark in the third. That’s when Maurice Pauling bashed through the Rebel line and blocked Jesus Reyes’s punt inside the Mid-Carolina 10, and that’s when Cameron Roseberry flopped on the loose pumpkin in the Rebel end zone for the first 6 points of the game. Austin Gregory, who was a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs, booted in the extra point and the scoring glut was on.

The Griffins, stymied for two and a half quarters, ultimately blanked the Rebels 35-0, wrapping up a 2A Region III sweep.

“We stunk it up, didn’t we?” Griffins head coach Demetrius Davis said of his team’s early performance. “I told the running backs, I told the offense, if we can just score one time, then we’ll be fine. With that lid on it, we couldn’t get anything going.”

Once the lid was off, it stayed off for good.

The Griffins made it 14-0 when Jerrell Suber-O’Neal gashed his way into the end zone from 13 yards out with 2:26 left in the third. The run capped an eight-play, 66-yard drive that featured nothing but the ground game.

“Statistically, I think we did pretty decent running the ball,” Davis said. “We just had too many penalties.”

The Griffins were hit with 96 yards in penalties, but that was easily offset with 341 yards rushing. Suber-O’Neal led the way for Fairfield Central with 169 yards on 20 carries.

“He had a good night, didn’t he?” Davis said of the junior running back.

The Fairfield Central defense, which put up its second straight shutout, snuffed out the Rebels’ hopes for a rally, upping the ante to 21-0 when Jeff Russell picked off a second-and-12 pass from Mid-Carolina’s Corey Stone and returned it 32 yards for the score with 1:32 left in the penultimate frame.

The first half defensive standoff had rapidly devolved into a blowout.

“As the season goes, you’ve got to be able to win these kinds of games sometimes,” Davis said. “The offense is not going to click all the time.”

The offense clicked well enough in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to notch its second contribution to the feeding frenzy when Tony Ruff blasted into the end zone from 8 yards out with 8:03 left in the game. Ruff’s run put the finishing touch on another eight-play drive that began at the Griffin 30 with 11:52 to go.

The drive, which featured a consistent pounding by Ruff, Suber-O’Neal and Chad Sampson, made it clear that Fairfield Central had deciphered the Rebel code that had kept them in check for more than half the game.

“They gave us something we had to adjust to,” Davis said. “The good thing is we were able to see it today instead of seeing it when we got back. We were able to make that adjustment. They were disguising a seven-man box. They were showing a six-man, but they were looping the seventh man in there. It was a good scheme, but we were able to figure it out. They’ve got some good defensive players.”

Special teams added the exclamation point when “Doctor” Zchivago Herndon fielded a Mid-Carolina punt at the Griffin 48 and broke down the far sideline, directing traffic as he sliced through coverage for the final score with 6:23 to play.

With their 24th straight region win, the Griffins take a 6-0 region record (9-1 overall) and an undisputed Region III title into the playoffs, which begin Nov. 13 at Fairfield Central.


FC: 0-0-21-14 – 35

MC: 0-0-0-0 – 0



Third Quarter

FC – Cameron Roseberry blocked punt recovery (Austin Gregory kick). 6:51.

FC – Jerrell Suber-O’Neal 13 run (A. Gregory kick). 2:26.

FC – Jeff Russell 32 INT return (A. Gregory kick). 1:32.

Fourth Quarter

FC – Tony Ruff 8 run (A. Gregory kick). 8:03.

FC – Zchivago Herndon 52 punt return (A. Gregory kick). 6:23.


Team Stats

FC                                           MC

First Downs                                        17                                           4

Rushes-Yards                                     43-341                                   24-7

Passing Yards                                     45                                           39

C-A-I                                                      6-15-2                                   9-16-1

Fumbles-Lost                                     1-1                                          3-1

Penalties-Yards                                 11-96                                     5-50


Individual Stats

RUSHING: FC – Jerrell Suber-O’Neal 20-169, Stanley McManus 7-44, Tony Ruff 8-74, Antonio Jackson 1-5, Chad Sampson 4-39, Z. Evans 1-0, Roderick Sparks 1-1, Harvey Kinsler 1-9. MC – Terrell Long 10-5, Corey Stone 7-(-19), Dee Lindler 7-21.

PASSING: FC – Stanley McManus 5-14, 32 yards, 2 INT; Antonio Jackson 1-1, 13 yards. MC – Corey Stone 9-16, 39 yards, INT.

RECEIVING: FC – Chad Sampson 2-10, Rodrick Woodard 2-8, Roderick Sparks 1-14, Kimoni Harris 1-13. MC – Cade Ruff 2-2, J. Bates-Caldwell 3-5, Nick Nelson 2-32, T. Green 2-0.

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