Cavaliers maintain their perfect start
Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2016
COLUMBUS – A week off did nothing to slow down the Callaway Cavaliers.
Callaway, which beat LaGrange and Handley (Ala.) to begin the season, returned from an off week and handled home-standing Columbus 28-7 on Thursday night at Memorial Stadium.
Callaway improved to 3-0, and it will look to continue its perfect start when it hosts Upson-Lee next Friday.
Junior running back DJ Atkins had a pair of long touchdown runs for Callaway, and Dylan Johnson threw two scoring passes to Braylon Sanders.
Columbus scored a touchdown early in the second quarter to tie it, but Callaway’s defense threw a shutout the rest of the way.
“I felt like we handled adversity,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “Some games you’re going to have that. You’ve got to continue to play, and our kids did. And we found a way to win the ballgame.”
Callaway scored three of its touchdowns in the first half.
Atkins got the scoring started with a 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and in the second quarter, Sanders had scoring catches of 13 and 31 yards.
Late in the third quarter, when the outcome was still in doubt, Atkins helped Callaway salt things away with a 51-yard touchdown run.
Atkins has been putting up big numbers early in the season, and he has shown the ability to score from anywhere on the field.
“I feel like I can score on any play,” Atkins said. “It’s just a matter of being patient, and letting my blocks be there. I can’t be out of control. But I feel like when I’m in space, I can make plays.”
Atkins added that “if it wasn’t for my line, I couldn’t do nothing. I love my line.”
In the first half especially, Callaway showed off its offensive versatility.
While Atkins was running strong, Johnson and Sanders were having their way with the Columbus defense.
“Dylan and Braylon had a big game tonight,” Wiggins said. “I thought my offensive line gave Dylan pretty good time to throw.”
Callaway’s defense gave up its share of yards, but it buckled down when it had to and, with one exception, kept Columbus off the scoreboard.
“In the second quarter the defense played really well after they settled in,” Wiggins said. “I was really proud of both sides of the football.”
Callaway linebacker Michael Freeman said the defensive players came in expecting to be challenged.
“Coming into the game, we knew they had a pretty fast offense,” Freeman said. “We knew they had some great athletes. We had to just trust our eyes, trust our instincts and trust our coaches, and just play.”
Callaway scored on its first possession.
Johnson completed a 21-yard pass to DQ Wilkerson on a screen play, and Atkins ripped off a 62-yard touchdown run on the next play, and Noah Stephens made the first of his four extra points.
Columbus answered with a 14-yard touchdown run by Karlton Wiliams with 10:59 left in the first half.
Callaway came right back with a scoring drive of its own that was set up by a long kickoff return by Sanders to his own 45-yard line.
Fullback Jibrell Jackson had a 21-yard run to get the ball deep in Columbus territory, and on a third-down play, Johnson connected with Sanders for a 13-yard score, and Callaway led 14-7 with 7:18 left in the half.
Moments later, Qua Hines recovered a fumble, giving Callaway the ball at the Columbus 31-yard line.
On the next play, it was Johnson and Sanders hooking up once again for the 31-yard scoring pass, and Callaway led 21-7, which was the score at the half.
On Callaway’s third possession of the second half, Atkins took a handoff from Johnson and beat the Columbus defense for a 51-yard touchdown, and with 37 seconds left in the third quarter, it was a 28-7 game.
In the fourth quarter, Kobe Jackson sealed the victory when he made a diving interception with 2:53 remaining, and the Cavaliers were able to run the clock out.
OF NOTE: For more photos from Thursday’s game, check out facebook.com/LDNsports, and for more on the game, see Saturday’s sports section.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports