The Carver Tigers had new uniforms and the Spencer Greenwave had a new coach, but history held up in the 50th edition of the Heritage Bowl.
Wearing dark black jerseys with black numbers, the Tigers stormed past the Greenwave for a 47-6 win on Friday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.
Carver exhibited blazing team speed to pile on 35 points in the first half before a running clock and substitutions slowed it up at the end.
Quarterback Torrance McGee led the way early, completing 4 of 9 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 88 on the ground.
Both touchdown passes came in the second quarter, a 22-yarder to JaQuan Sanks and a 47-yarder to Danny Ryles as time expired.
Despite the success on offense, coach Dell McGee was quick to highlight some sloppiness. The team committed nine penalties for 80 yards, all on the offensive side of the ball. It also fumbled on its first play from scrimmages, just seconds after intercepting a Spencer pass.
"We've just got to cut down on our penalties," McGee said. "We put ourselves in a lot of bad situations. We have to learn from this
stuff on film. It'll be a good teaching and evaluation tool. We've just got a long way to go."
Tailback Mario Moore finished the job for the Tigers, scoring both second-half touchdowns. He ran one in from 2 yards out to make it 41-0 in the third and then put the exclamation point on the game with a 94-yard kickoff return with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
Moore, helped by the late return, was named the Wallace Davis Hustle Award, given to the most valuable Carver player.
After the game, Moore said that, despite the shaky start on offense, he thought the team came together well.
"We were slacking a little bit in the beginning, but we kept our heads up and got a couple of key plays," he said.
Noah Hickey added an 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Brandon Thomas had a nifty 21-yard run to give the Tigers a 28-0 lead in the second.
On the play, Thomas carried around the left in and ran into traffic in the secondary. Rather than take the ball to the sideline, however, he cut right, dodged a handful of defenders, split the defense and dove into the end zone for the score.
Thomas finished the game with 49 yards rushing, while Moore had 38.
The defense, while failing to finish off the shut out, held steady for the majority of the game.
Carver's first score came on a 54-yard fumble return by Reshad McCarter. On Spencer's first play from scrimmage following a Carver turnover, the Tigers forced a fumble and McCarter scooped it up and ran for the score.
The only touchdown it allowed the Greenwave came with just over 10 mintues remaining in the game. Spencer running back Damarkus Robins picked up 30 of his 68 rushing yards on one play, putting his team on the board for the first time. Robins was named the most valuable player in the game for Spencer.
The real problem for the Greenwave was their inability to hang on to the football. Seven times in the game, Spencer fumbled the football, losing three.
"We had entirely too many fumbles," said Calvin Arnold, who was in his first game as a head coach. "We've got to hold on to the ball. That leads to short field position for the other offense, and puts our defense in a bad spot."
He said there were some things that encouraged him, like his team's effort level late in the game. But the game, as a whole, just exhibited how far away his team still was.
"We've got to work on a lot," he said. "Offense, defense, special teams. We've got to work on everything."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571
Carver at Spencer
Carver 14 21 6 6--47
Spencer 0 0 0 6--6
C--McCarter 54 fumble return (Lewis kick); 9:04
C--Hickey 11 run (Lewis kick); 3:32
C--Sanks 22 pass from McGee (Lewis kick); 11:39
C--Thomas 21 run (Lewis kick); 2:06
C--Ryles 47 pass from McGee (Lewis kick); 0:00
C--Moore 2 run (kick failed); 2:27
S--Robins 30 run (kick failed); 10:19
C--Moore 94 kick return (kick failed); 9:27
Team records: Carver 1-0; Spencer 0-1. Next: Carver, Thursday vs. Shaw (at Kinnett), 7 p.m.; Spencer, Friday at Randolph-Clay, 7 p.m.