High school football: South can’t stop Spartans
By Mike London
LANDIS — For Central Davidson head football coach Clayton Trivett this was like bowling 300, pitching a perfect game or making a hole-in-one.
Central Davidson won a football game on Friday — and won it easily on South Rowan’s Senior Night — without throwing a forward pass.
The Spartans battered 2A Central Carolina Conference opponent South Rowan with an old-school, physical running assault that produced three 100-yard rushers. They threw in some fierce, bend-but-don’t-break defense and rolled over the Raiders, 42-0.
“That offense of Central Davidson’s, it’s just not a fun to thing to play against,” South defensive lineman Remington Steele said.
South (2-8, 2-6) hasn’t won a lot of football games in recent seasons, but the Raiders beat Central Davidson in 2017 and 2018. In that 2018 game with South, late in a dismal season for Central, Trivett experimented with the double-wing offense that previous Central coach, Brad Morton, had employed with quite a bit of success.
“They hit us with that offense last year and we had a hard time stopping them,” South Rowan head coach Daniel Yow said. “We were hoping they wouldn’t use the double-wing this year, but they’ve been doing it all season, and now they’ve had a year to perfect it. They’re good at it. We knew they were going to be really hard to stop tonight. They’re a lot better than people realize, a lot better than their record. It’s just that there are a lot of really good teams in our league.” a
Trivett and Yow are friends. Both are former Catawba offensive linemen. They communicate often in the off-season.
Trivett has more exceptional players than Yow right now. The Spartans (5-5, 3-5) not only have physical linemen, they have talented backs.
It wasn’t just 6 yards and a cloud of dust for Central. Keyshawn Breedlove broke a 71-yard scoring run. Cory Casilac, the workhorse, scored from 32 yards out. Cole Stewart busted a 54-yard touchdown run. Stewart sped for 147 yards. Casilac battled for 107. Breedlove totaled 100 on just seven touches.
Central out-rushed the Raiders 379 yards to 51.
“Central has got some guys who can get fast really quick,” Steele said.
Trivett is blessed with a quarterback who gets no stats to speak of, but doesn’t seem to mind. Junior Brody Stovall was sacked by South linebacker Andrew Furr the only time he even thought about putting the ball in the air, but he directed a turnover-free offense and got the ball in the hands of the right people.
“I don’t think we played that great,” Trivett said. “We got sloppy at times, and we had way too many penalties on defense, but we got the job done. We got a little revenge.”
From a South Rowan perspective, it was a nightmare from the outset. South was flagged for being offsides on its kickoff to start the game.
After Kameron Wallace made a tough third-down tackle, South had a chance to stop Central’s opening drive, but with the Spartans facing and fourth-and-3 at the South 34, South’s Austin Barnes was a little over-eager to make a play and was flagged 5 yards for encroachment. That moved the chains. The Spartans smashed toward the end zone from there, with Casilac waltzing in practically untouched from the 2.
With the help of a 21-yard play, — Brayden Garrett ran for 6 yards and a face mask penalty tacked on 15 more — South threatened to answer on its first possession. But the Spartans’ defense put South in a third-and-long at the Central 39, and Lazai Hairston picked off South QB Drew Huffman.
Then Central struck quickly, on the very next snap, with Breedlove bolting for the long run that put the Raiders in a 14-0 hole with 2:44 left in the first quarter.
“He’s a freshman and Casilac is only a sophomore,” Trivett said. “They have a chance to be special.”
South’s defense tried to keep the deficit at a manageable distance going to halftime and stiffened some in the second quarter.
When Austin Peacock and Jorge Benitez blew up a third-down play by the Spartans for a loss, Central faced a fourth-and-6 at the South 32. But that’s when Casilac roared through a huge hole and went the distance. That fourth-down score put the Spartans ahead 21-0.
South’s last realistic chance to stay in the game came late in the first half. Huffman broke containment for a 25-yard gain and also had an 11-yard run. South had first-and-goal at the Central 4, but the Raiders lost a fumble. Brandon Shore recovered for the Spartans. That was a backbreaker.
Central carried that three-TD lead to the break, and it seemed like 42-0. Central could run the ball consistently for 6 yards on first down and South never could establish any sort of ground game.
“They were stout defensively,” Yow said. “All their defensive linemen — and the linebackers.”
Garrett, the workhorse tailback in South’s I-formation, would rush 22 times. Thirteen were for no gain or negative yardage. The majority of South’s first-down plays were runs by Garrett, and many were stuffed for a minus-2. Nate Kirk, a defensive lineman, isn’t large, but he was disruptive. He visited the South backfield frequently.
“Defensively, we just did what we’re supposed to do, we played hard, and we stuck with it,” Kirk said. “South Rowan had come back and beaten us two years in a row. We wanted to change that.”
Central changed it, continuing to pound away in the third quarter.
Stewart had two scoring runs as the visitor’s lead swelled to 35-0.
“We tried different things to stop them,” Steele said. “We started out with our heavy group, with five defensive linemen up front, but that wasn’t working. Then we tried to go low and take out the blockers, to create a pile and let our linebackers make the tackles. But their backs always seemed to find a hole.”
Huffman hit some passes in the second half — 32 yards to Peacock and 25 yards to Logan Perry — but penalties provided a lot of the Raiders’ first downs.
South still couldn’t score.
With 8:45 left, Central guard Nick Hedrick — yes, an offensive lineman — burrowed into the end zone to make it 41-0. Drake Cullen’s sixth PAT made it 42-0, and the Spartans had reached the standard for the NCHSAA’s running-clock mercy rule.
South tried desperately to score at the end and advanced to the Central 7, but the running clock and Central’s stubborn defense were obstacles that couldn’t be overcome.
“We wanted to score and we had our chances, but we missed a few throws, we ran out of timeouts, and with a running clock, it’s tough,” Yow said. “It didn’t work out.”
South’s seniors left Donnell Stadium for the last time with their heads up. There was no denying the effort.
Central exited with a chance for a winning season if it can prevail at home against West Davidson (4-6, 3-5) next week. Those teams are tied for sixth, but it’s a deep league.
Spartans 42, Raiders 0
C. Davidson 14 7 14 7 — 42
S. Rowan 0 0 0 0 — 0
CD — Casilac 2 run (Cullens kick), 7:09
CD — Breedlove 71 run (Cullens kick), 2:44
CD — Casilac 32 run (Cullens kick), 4:49
CD — Stewart 20 run (Cullens kick), 9:24
CD — Stewart 54 run (Cullens kick), 2:50
CD — Hedrick 1 run (Cullens kick), 8:45
First downs 19 15
Rushing 47-379 39-51
Passing 0 68
C-A-I 0-0-0 3-12-1
Punts 1-29 3-24.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties 12-124 7-57
RUSHING — C. Davidson: Stewart 17-147; Casilac 15-107; Breedlove 7-100; Shore 5-32; Hedrick 1-1; Stovall 2-(minus-8). S. Rowan: Garrett 22-40; Huffman 10-31; Shell 3-(minus 3); McGee 2-(minus 7); Eagle 2-(minus 10).
PASSING — C. Davidson: None. S. Rowan: Huffman 3-12-1, 68; Eagle 0-0-0. 0.
RECEIVING — C. Davidson: None. S. Rowan: Peacock 1-32; Perry 1-25; McGee 1-11.
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