Griffins Take Blazers to the Wire

Jerrell Suber-O'Neal is driven out of bounds by the Ridge View defense. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

Jerrell Suber-O’Neal is driven out of bounds by the Ridge View defense. (Photo/DeAnna Robinson)

COLUMBIA (Sept. 12, 2016) – Punching above their weight class, the Fairfield Central Griffins football team took 4A powerhouse Ridge View to the wire Friday night at Spirit Communications Park. A pair of fourth-quarter TD passes from Blazers’ quarterback Jalen Smith, however, rallied Ridge View who narrowly escaped with a 22-20 win.

But just being able to play with the Big Boys was no consolation for Griffins’ head coach Demetrius Davis.

“We lost,” Davis said. “They’re a good football team, but we are too. We just came up short tonight, and at the end of the day, I hate it for these kids.”

After taking the opening possession 66 yards in just under 4 and a half minutes, hammering away at the Griffin defense and lighting up the scoreboard with Latheron Rogers-Anderson’s 2-yard TD run, the Blazers appeared to be in total command of the game. Nick Lawyer’s PAT gave Ridge View a 7-0 lead with 7:28 to go in the first quarter, and the rout looked to be on.

But the Griffin defense shutout the Blazers for the rest of the half, even blanked them in the third. The Blazers were stunned.

“After that first score, I think our defense played well,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get off the field on third and fourth downs. Last week, Blythewood scored three touchdowns on third-and-16, fourth-and-9 – you know, those downs – and they (Ridge View) scored that last one on us on fourth-and-8.”

While the Griffin defense recovered and kept the Blazers in check, Fairfield Central’s offense came alive after the break.

The Griffins took the opening possession of the second half 70 yards in less than 2 minutes as the passing game, which had lain dormant in the first two quarters of play, began to stir. Fairfield Central quarterback Stanley McManus ripped off two quick completions to get the Griffins into Ridge View territory, then Rodriguez Edmonds blasted around the edge to take it from the Blazer 39 to the 3-yard line for first-and-goal.

“We wanted to wear them down,” Davis said of the run-heavy first half. “We knew we were better than them up front, and we figured that if we throw it, that number 30 (defensive end Damani Staley) would have 50 sacks. We felt like we could wear them down and once we get them tired then we could throw it a little bit. But the first half we just wanted to pound them and lay on them.”

McManus finished the drive with a 1-yard run. He lost the handle on the ball as he went down, but the referees ruled he had broken the plane of the end zone. The point after kick failed, but the Griffins were back in the game, down 7-6 with 9:55 left in the third.

The Griffins had a shot to pull ahead on their next possession. Rodric Woodard returned a Blazer punt from the Fairfield 40 to the Ridge View 38, giving the Griffins a short field to work with. On second-and-4, Edmonds pounded the ball to the Blazer 18 for a first down. But two plays later, Edmonds was stripped of the ball inside the 10 by Staley, ending the threat.

Still, the Fairfield defense held and forced another Blazer three-and-out. And this time, the Griffins made Ridge View pay.

On second-and-12 from the Ridge View 45, McManus hit Antonio Jackson with a TD strike to give the Griffins the lead. The 2-point conversion attempt – a halfback reverse pass from Woodard to McManus – was at first called good by the nearest official. A referee on the far side of the field, however, ruled that the pass had actually hit the ground and waved the call off.

Nevertheless, with 4:41 to play in the third, the Griffins had shocked Ridge View and were up 12-7.

“Our kids can’t be that bad where all the calls always go against my boys,” a frustrated Davis said after the game. “They worked too dang hard for them jokers to take it away from us.”

Ridge View caught another break in the fourth quarter when a short punt out of the Griffins’ end zone gave them the ball at the Fairfield 28. Smith finished the drive with a 15-yard toss to Tre’ High, and Lawyer’s PAT put the Blazers back on top, 14-12, with 9:30 left in the game.

The Blazers turned the tide for good when Rogers-Anderson picked off a McManus pass near the Fairfield 30 and returned it to the 6. A penalty on the runback spotted the ball back at the Griffin 37 where Ridge View quickly went to work.

The Griffin defense looked to have held once more, with the Blazers facing a fourth-and-8 from the Fairfield 25. But Ridge View rolled the dice and came up big with Smith hitting High for pay dirt. Rogers-Anderson hammered in the 2-point run, and the Blazers looked to have things on ice with a 22-12 lead and 8:42 left in the game.

Just to be sure, Ridge View snuck an on-side kick past the Griffins, recovering the ball at the Fairfield 25. The drive ended when Daryl Camack picked off a Smith pass at the 20, but the Blazers had eaten valuable time off the play clock.

Camack returned the interception to the Ridge View 15, setting up Edmonds for a 2-yard scoring scamper with 1:04 to play. McManus completed the 2-point toss to Tykedrist Gibson to cut the lead to 22-20.

But there just wasn’t enough time.

The Griffins’ on-side kick attempt created another round of confusion for the officiating squad who ultimately awarded the ball to Ridge View at midfield. From there, the Blazers ran out the clock and averted the upset.

“This was the first night, truly, where we had all our guys,” Davis said. “We had all our offensive linemen, we had all our running backs. This is the first time this year that we had the whole package. We just came up short.”

Things don’t get any easier for the Griffins in the weeks to come. This Friday they travel to Newberry to take on the Bulldogs. The game will be played at Newberry College’s Setzler Field.

“We’ve got to get better,” Davis said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. It’s tough. I’m hopping our kids will realize it’s a process. I put this schedule together so we can get tested now, so when November comes we can go.”

 

FC: 0-0-12-8 – 20

RV: 7-0-0-15 – 22

Scoring

First Quarter

RV – L. Rogers-Anderson 2 run (Nick Lawyer kick). 7:78.

Third Quarter

FC – Stanley McManus 1 run (kick failed). 9:55.

FC – Antonio Jackson 45 pass from S. McManus (pass failed). 4:41.

Fourth Quarter

RV – Tre’ High 15 pass from Jalen Smith (N. Lawyer kick). 9:30.

RV – T. High 25 pass from J. Smith (L. Rogers-Anderson run). 5:42.

FC – Rodriguez Edmonds 2 run (Tykedrist Gibson pass from S. McManus). 1:04.

 

TEAM STATS

FC                                           RV

First Downs                        12                                           13

Rushes-Yards                     42-171                                   34-116

Passing Yards                     119                                         172

C-A-I                                      8-13-1                                   15-29-1

Fumbles-Lost                    2-2                                          1-1

Penalties-Yards                                12-95                                     9-75

 

INDIVIDUAL STATS

RUSHING: FC – Stanley McManus 18-70, Jerrell Suber-O’Neal 13-42, Rodriguez Edmonds 8-54, Tony Ruff 3-5. RV – L. Rogers-Anderson 9-18, Ronald Brown 9-9, Jalen Smith 15-87, Cameron Butler 1-2.

RECEIVING: FC – Jamas Goins 2-15, J.R. Edmonds 1-2, Ah’Quil Ross 3-43, Antonio Jackson 2-59. RV – Cam Napper 2-29, Tre’ High 4-59, Cameron Butler 6-70, Waylan Napper 2-8, Justin McCrae 1-6.

PASSING: FC – Stanley McManus 8-13, 119 yards, TD, INT. RV – Jalen Smith 15-29, 172 yards, 2 TDs, INT.

Speak Your Mind

*