Cavaliers a step closer to region title
LAGRANGE – That was impressive.
After two blowout victories against a pair of struggling football teams to begin their region schedule, the task figured to be considerably more difficult for the Callaway Cavaliers on Friday against a quality Pepperell ballclub.
Instead, it was business as usual for the Cavaliers (7-1 overall), who overwhelmed the Dragons 35-14 to improve to 3-0 in Region 5-AAA.
Callaway will play on the road against Haralson County next week before finishing the regular season with a game at Central-Carroll that will determine the region championship.
Pepperell came out fast, scoring a touchdown on its opening possession, but Callaway scored the next 35 points before surrendering a late touchdown.
Callaway running back Cedric Maynard continued to dazzle, ripping off touchdown runs of 90, 60 and 10 yards while moving closer to 2,000 yards on the season.
It was also a big night for Dre Martin, who got the scoring started for Callaway with a 77-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and he added a 20-yard scoring catch from Dylan Johnson later in the game.
Callaway’s defense was dominant as well.
After the Dragons went 78 yards for a touchdown on their first possession, they were held scoreless until Tae Hammond came through with a 50-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter against Callaway’s reserves.
“After that (opening drive), we settled down, got it together, and coach (Dusty Hubbard) called the right plays, and we got people in the right spots to make plays,” said linebacker Devin Brock, who had two interceptions.
Hammond also had a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to put the game’s first points on the scoreboard.
“Pepperell, they’ve got a good football team, and we knew that coming in,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “Their only losses came to good football teams. It was a hard-fought, physical game. Again, I’m just proud of our guys for playing physical and taking over the game.”
Maynard has 18 touchdowns in eight games, and if he has his usual effort next week against Haralson County, he’ll surpass 2,000 yards.
Maynard also had a 62-yard touchdown run negated by a penalty, but he still found the end zone three times.
“It’s crazy. It’s unreal to watch him,” said Johnson, Callaway’s junior quarterback. “I watch him in practice each week. Everything he does in practice, he does in a game.”
Maynard was quick to give a lot of credit to his offensive linemen for opening holes to run through.
“They mean a lot to me,” Maynard said. “They’re my brothers. We work together. We’re family.”
Even without senior Cortney Laye, who was unable to play because of an injury, Callaway’s offensive line thrived in Friday’s game.
Callaway’s starting offensive linemen were Stephen Curtis, Thomas Hodge, Etarian Bowles, John Curtis and Keiondre Jones.
“Week in and week out, our guys up front have opened up lanes for Cedric,” said Wiggins, who coaches the offensive linemen. “He’s an incredible back, but they’ve done a great job for us all year giving him running lanes.”
After Pepperell’s impressive opening drive, Callaway answered with a quick touchdown.
Maynard’s 62-yard scoring run was called back because of the penalty, but on the next play, Martin beat the defense for a 77-yard scoring run.
Noah Stephens’ extra point, his first of three, deadlocked the score at 7-7.
Later in the first quarter, Maynard broke loose for a 60-yard scoring run, and Callaway led 13-7.
Callaway capped the first-half scoring with a 20-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Martin, who was sitting down in the end zone when he caught the ball.
Johnson ran in the two-point conversion attempt to give his team a 21-7 lead, and that was the score at the half.
Callaway started quickly in the third quarter, driving 62 yards for the touchdown, and Maynard capped that drive with a 10-yard touchdown run, and it was a 28-7 game with 9:12 left in the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Cavaliers started at their own 20, and they were pushed back to the 10 following a penalty.
On the next play, Maynard took a handoff from Johnson, and it looked for a moment like he might be bottled up, but he broke out and out-raced everybody down the right sideline for the 90-yard touchdown.
“When I see the end zone, I’m gone,” Maynard said.
The Cavaliers were threatening to score again late in the game when Pepperell’s Braden Adams stripped the ball away from a ball-carrier at the 2-yard line, and he took off and made it to midfield before he was tackled.
On the next play, Hammond took off on a 50-yard run to cap the scoring.
OF NOTE: For more on Friday’s game, go to www.lagrangenews.com, and check out Monday’s sports section.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports