Prior to the game, Carver coach Dell McGee said that he was looking for a complete performance from his team going into the bye week.
Led by 119 yards and two scores from running back Danny Ryles and four sacks by the defense, the Tigers (4-1, 1-0 Region 2-AAA) beat visiting Pike County 38-3 on Friday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.
With the win, the Tigers have two weeks to recover before their next game (Oct. 12 vs. Henry County) and a head start in the region playoff race.
"That's great," McGee said after the game. "Going into the bye week is always huge. It'll give us a chance to heal some guys."
McGee could be referring to three of his defensive backs, who missed the game due to injury. Despite the missing players, however, the defense stood tall against a difficult Pike County option attack.
The Carver defense allowed just 185 yards, the vast majority of which came on the ground.
It appeared early on that the Tigers may struggle against the athletic runners on the opposing offense. Pike County, alternating between quarterback Tyler Gregory and running back Artez Oglesby carrying the ball on the opening drive, picked up 64 yards on the ground in just over three minutes before a holding call and a tightened Carver defense stalled the drive.
That would be the order of the evening in the first half, as Pike County picked up 100 yards on the ground, but converted them into just three points, a field goal by Jarrod Fuqua early in the second quarter.
"We bent at times, but the biggest thing is not to give up points," McGee said. "I think we did a pretty good job. We did let them hold the ball a lot in the first half, so we didn't have a ton of opportunities for the offense."
But when the opportunities came, Carver took advantage.
The team's first score was set up by a 77-yard kickoff return by Brandon Thomas immediately following the Pike County field goal. Thomas took the ball at his own 20-yard line and busted down the right side, evading tacklers are breaking through the grasp of the only guy who got a hand on him before finally being tracked down at the 3-yard line.
Ryles took the handoff in for a 3-yard score on the first play from scrimmage to give Carver a 7-3 advantage it would not relinquish.
Ryles electrified the offense on a handful of other plays throughout the course of the game.
He ran 35 yards to set the offense up in Pike County territory inside six minutes left in the second quarter. Two plays later, Tigers quarterback Torrance McGee connected with wide receiver Marqui Hawkins, a Florida commit, for a 35-yard touchdown to make it 14-3 with 5:11 left in the half. Hawkins finished with four receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Ryles put the exclamation on his day, carrying for 33 yards for an impressive touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend the Carver lead to 32-3. Ryles ran for about 8 yards, looked as if he was going to be bottled up, but busted free down the left side for the score.
"We did pretty good on offense," he said. "We kept the ball moving. The line did a good job, and Jaquan Sanks had a great block on (the 33-yard touchdown) to open it up for me."
Not to be forgotten, the passing game also came to life with McGee completing 12 of 17 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. His two other scores went to Sanks, a 5-yarder, and Dominic Johnson, a 4-yarder. Backup quarterback Khane pass added a touchdown pass late, a 28-yarder to Jacob Chinn to complete the scoring.
"I was real happy with the passing game," McGee said. "It's good to throw it at times to kind of balance out what we're doing in the running game."
Friday at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium
Pike 0 3 0 0--3
Carver 0 20 6 12--38
Fuqua 26 field goal; 10:54
Ryles 3 run (Lewis kick); 10:34
Hawkins 35 pass from McGee (Lewis kick); 5:11
Sanks 5 pass from McGee (kick failed); :11
Johnson 4 pass from McGee (kick failed); 8:13
Ryles 33 run (kick failed); 9:42
Chinn 28 pass from Pass (kneel); :53
Records: Pike County 2-3, 0-1 Region 2-AAA; Carver 3-1, 1-0. Next: Carver vs. Henry County, Memorial, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m.