Pick six clinches win
By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
In a game filled with offensive highlights, it was a defensive play that put a big red bow on Friday’s state-playoff victory for the Callaway Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers were leading 28-14 in the fourth quarter against St. Pius, and while they appeared to have the game in hand, they weren’t entirely comfortable.
St. Pius has repeatedly shown over the years an ability to win tough playoff games on the road, so when it got the ball behind by 14 points with a little more than five minutes remaining, the outcome was still in doubt.
That would soon change.
St. Pius had moved the ball near midfield when Callaway delivered the knockout punch.
Dre Martin, a sophomore linebacker for the Cavaliers, was playing back in coverage, and he read the quarterback.
The ball came Martin’s way, he jumped the route, and he picked off the pass.
Martin put on a couple of nice moves, and 45 yards later he was standing in the end zone with the pick six.
Chase Freeman knocked the extra-point attempt through the uprights, and Callaway was up 35-14 with 3:34 to play.
It was game, set, and match for the Cavaliers.
“It was a huge play,” Callaway defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard said of Martin’s interception. “He just kind of dropped underneath the stop route right there. (The quarterback) probably didn’t even see him, and he threw it right to him. The return was pretty good, too. He made a move. That was special.”
Martin, who is also the second-string quarterback and has gotten a lot of playing time this season at that position, said he “just jumped the route.”
“He threw it the first time, and I really couldn’t get up under it,” Martin added. “So I knew it was coming.”
When Martin crossed the goal line, everyone in the stadium knew the game was over.
KeShun Freeman, a senior linebacker, called it “a very special moment.”
Freeman said before the game he and Martin were talking about who would get an interception, and Freeman was more than happy to let his teammate have it.
“We were talking before the game, I bet I get one before you, and he said, nah, I bet I get one before you,” Freeman said. “He beat me. But I’m so proud of him.”
Martin’s interception return was part of a terrific defensive effort for the Cavaliers, who held St. Pius to a playoff low in points.
Ed Daniel also had an interception for the Cavaliers in the third quarter that thwarted a St. Pius drive.
Martin’s interception came on the very next possession for St. Pius.
St. Pius scored 31 points in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs, and it was basically held to 14 points against Callaway while the outcome was in doubt.
“I’m just so proud of them,” Hubbard said. “They did everything we asked them to do in practice.”
Callaway now has two interception returns for touchdowns in as many weeks.
In the previous playoff game against Pierce County, Terry Godwin picked off a pass near his own goal line and raced 95 yards for the touchdown.
That play allowed Callaway to go up 14-0 in the first quarter, moments after it looked like Pierce County was about to score a touchdown and probably take the lead with an extra point.
Martin’s touchdown also marked the third straight playoff game where Callaway scored on either a special-teams play or a defensive play.
In the first round against Henry County, Godwin returned a punt for a touchdown, and he had the pick six a week later.
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