Cavaliers surge to homecoming win
Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 18, 2016
LAGRANGE – It was an explosive homecoming performance by the Callaway Cavaliers.
Callaway charged to a 34-0 lead in the second quarter, and it went on to capture a 34-7 victory over Upson-Lee before a large and appreciative home crowd on Friday night at Callaway Stadium.
Callaway’s high-octance had it all working in the first half.
Junior running back DJ Atkins had more than 150 yards in the first quarter alone when he had three runs of at least 40 yards, and he scored on a 3-yard run.
Callaway’s passing game was sharp as well, with quarterback Dylan Johnson tossing touchdowns to Michael Freeman, Braylon Sanders and Khaliq Swift.
Callaway’s defense delivered a dominant performance that was highlighted by an interception return for a touchdown by Kobe Jackson.
Throw in a typically strong showing by the special-teams unit, and it was a complete effort by a Callaway team that is now 4-0.
Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said Friday’s win was the culmination of a memorable and special homecoming week.
“I was really proud of our kids for this week of practice. We’ve got homecoming going on, and there are a lot of distractions,” Wiggins said. “But it’s all good, and the kids enjoy it. I felt like they handled it well, and I felt like we had a great parade down in Hogansville and there was a lot of energy, and the kids could feel it. There was a great turnout there, and a great crowd here tonight. I was really proud of our football team, and our community. There were a lot of people in the stands, and our band and our cheerleader help us have such a great atmosphere on Friday night.”
The Cavaliers’ first possession ended with an interception, but they were unstoppable after that, scoring touchdowns four of the next five times they touched the ball.
After a short Upson-Lee punt, Callaway was only 47 yards from the end zone, and it needed two plays to score the game’s first points.
Atkins ripped off a 44-yard run to get the Cavaliers close, and he scored on a 3-yard run on the next play.
Noah Stephens made the first of his four extra points, and Callaway was up 7-0 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Cavaliers go the ball after making a fourth-down stop at their own 35-yard line.
On a first-down play, Atkins had what looked like a 65-yard touchdown run, but the score was negated by a penalty.
On the following play, Johnson found Freeman for a 16-yard touchdown, and after an unsuccessful two-point conversion, Callaway led 13-0 with 17 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Then it was the defense’s turn to find the end zone.
Jackson, part of an experienced and talented defensive backfield, picked off a pass around the Upson-Lee 40-yard line, and he raced untouched to the end zone for the score, and Callaway was on top 20-0 with 11:40 to play in the half.
A little more than two minutes later, Callaway was in the end zone again.
A bad snap on a punt gave Callaway the ball at the Upson-Lee 25-yard line.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Johnson hit Sanders for a 25-yard touchdown, and the lead was 27-0 with 9:31 remaining in the half.
Upson-Lee then went three-and-out and punted, and Callaway took over at its own 18-yard line.
Johnson had a 20-yard keeper on third down to keep the drive alive, and Atkins had a 25-yard run to put the ball in Upson-Lee territory.
On a second-down play, Johnson rolled out and hit Swift for a 24-yard touchdown, and with 2:47 to play in the half, Callaway’s lead was 34-0.
Upson-Lee got a 1-yard scoring run from Ty Montford with 31 seconds left in the second quarter, and it was a 34-7 game at the half.
Neither team was able to put any points on the scoreboard in the second half.
Callaway will visit Harris County on Friday as it completes its non-region schedule.
OF NOTE: For much more on Friday’s game, including reaction from Callaway’s players, see Monday’s sports section. And for more photos, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports