Cavaliers put on a show

Published 2:11 am Saturday, November 23, 2019


Daily News

It was showtime at Callaway Stadium.

The Callaway Cavaliers, looking to reach the state quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive season, pulled away in the second half for a 50-31 victory over the visiting  Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane on Friday night.

Callaway’s dynamic and seemingly unstoppable offense put the ball in the end zone at will, scoring touchdowns on nearly every possession.

Fitzgerald had some offensive success of its own, but it was unable to match scores with a high-powered Callaway attack.

Callaway (11-1) will be back at Callaway Stadium next Friday to take on Douglass-Atlanta, which beat Jefferson County to advance.

“I was proud of our effort. I was proud of our coaching staff, and how hard these guys work,” said Pete Wiggins, Callaway’s head coach. “These kids believe in what we do, and they’re just picking up their lunch pail and coming to work every day. It’s not easy. These guys, they believe in one another, and they believe in what we do, and I’m really proud of these kids.”

Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, Callaway’s outstanding senior running back, had a monster night with four touchdown runs, and Charlie Dixon had a pair of scoring runs.

Callaway’s big-play passing game was on display as well, with Demetrius Coleman tossing a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Freeman.

The most impactful play of the night came moments before the end of the first half.

The Cavaliers had the ball leading by four points, and they were hoping to tack on some more points to take momentum to the locker room.

Callaway had the ball at its own 34-yard line with less than a minute to play in the half when Coleman threw a short pass to Antinez Blount.

Blount, right before he hit the turf, pitched the ball back to Bigsby at the 40-yard line, and the senior running back took off and raced 60 yards for the touchdown, carrying a handful of defenders into the end zone.

When Blake Eubanks made the extra point, the Cavaliers had a 21-10 lead, which was the score at the halftime break.

The play was called by offensive coordinator Matt Napier, and it worked to perfection.

“If you have really good players like we have, they can execute those plays,” Napier said. “For Demetrius to throw an accurate ball to Blount, and for him to catch and pitch it to Tank, the execution’s the biggest part of it.”

Fitzgerald’s defenders caught up to Bigsby around the 20-yard line, but he refused to go down, using his combination of speed and power to get into the end zone.

“I wasn’t going to give up,” Bigsby said. “I just had to keep going.”

The Cavaliers continued to pour it on in the second half, scoring four more touchdowns to win going away.

“With our guys, it was the physicality they played with throughout the game,” Wiggins said. “We challenged them coming in to be more physical, to stand the test of four quarters, and I think we did that. I think the physicality from our defense, to our offensive line, to our running backs, it was really important, and it’s a great part of winning the game. I’m really proud of our guys.”

Fitzgerald, fully away of Callaway’s quick-strike ability on offense, milked nearly nine minutes off the clock on the opening possession, with Mario Clark capping the drive with a 9-yard run to give the visiting team a 7-0 lead with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

It didn’t take the Cavaliers long to even things up with a touchdown of their own.

Callaway moved into Fitzgerald territory on a 14-yard completion from Coleman to Blount, and four plays later, Dixon scored on a 4-yard touchdown run.

Eubanks made the first of his six extra points, and it was 7-7 game with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.

Back came Fitzgerald with another time-consuming drive that was capped by a 35-yard field goal, and Callaway trailed 10-7 with 5:07 left in the opening half.

The Cavaliers responded with another scoring drive, going 59 yards in six plays for their second touchdown.

Bigsby capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run, and with the extra point Callaway led 14-10 with 2:58 remaining in the half.

Callaway’s defense then stepped up and forced a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense with 56 seconds left in the half.

The Cavaliers, thanks to some trickery and some powerful running by Bigsby on the hook and ladder play, didn’t need long to score again and extend the lead to 21-10.

“It was a great momentum swing,” Wiggins said of the score before the half. “We went into the half and our guys were really excited. They were up. I think that set the tone for the third quarter, and our kids continued to play hard.”

After the teams exchanged punts to start the third quarter, Callaway’s second possession of the second half began at the Fitzgerald 44-yard line.

On a first-down play, Freeman went up and snatched the ball away from a Fitzgerald defender for a 36-yard completion from Coleman.

Two plays later, Bigsby’s 6-yard run and the extra point gave Callaway a 28-10 advantage with 8:07 left in the third quarter.

Fitzgerald, showing off some offensive prowess of its own, scored a little more than two minutes later, with Rashad Davis finding Jakorrian Paulk for a 25-yard touchdown.

After an unsuccessful extra-point attempt, Callaway’s lead was 28-16 with 6:02 to go in the third quarter.

It took the Cavaliers one play to find the end zone once again.

Coleman dropped back and threw the ball to a wide-open Jacob Freeman for a 70-yard touchdown, and Coleman also completed the two-point conversion pass to Blount to push the lead to 36-16.

Callaway’s next touchdown was set up by an interception by Jymere Jones.

Two plays after the interception, Bigsby took off on a 55-yard touchdown run, and Callaway’s lead was 43-16 with 11:20 left in the game.

Fitzgerald answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mario Clark and a two-point conversion with 6:19 to play to make it a 43-24 game, but as was the case throughout the night, Callaway’s offense simply marched down the field and scored again.

After the Cavaliers recovered an onside kick, Dixon’s 31-yard run put the ball deep in Purple Hurricane territory.

Following a 17-yard run by Amarion Copeland, Dixon’s 6-yard run and Eubanks’ final extra point of the night gave Callaway a 50-24 lead with 3:30 to play.

Fitzgerald capped the scoring on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Demarion Dixon with 1:17 remaining.