Carver erupts in second quarter, scoring 3 TDs in under four minutes
By DAVID MITCHELL
It was an opening-round playoff game, and it resembled it for the Carver football team on Friday night at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium.
The team made a handful of minor mistakes, but otherwise played a solid game in a 42-21 victory over visiting Dodge County.
With the win, the Tigers advance to the second round of the Class AAA playoffs where they will host Rockmart, which defeated Appling County, 34-33, in its game..
"For the most part, I was pleased," Carver coach Dell McGee said. "I'm happy with the victory. Now, this has to be short-lived, and we have to start all over getting ready for next week."
The Tigers took over the game in the second quarter when they erupted for 21 points. After closing the first quarter with a 14-6 lead, Carver scored three rushing touchdowns in a span of three minutes, 54 seconds to jump out to a 35-6 lead.
To start the quarter, the defense held Dodge County to a three and out, before marching 69 yards in 48 seconds for a score. Quarterback Torrance McGee his Marqui Hawkins on a screen pass, which Hawkins turned into a 31-yard gain. Two plays later, Hawkins got another pass from McGee, this time for 24 yards. Danny Ryles finished the job with an 8-yard score on the ground to put the Tigers ahead 21-6.
On the first play of the ensuing
drive for the Indians, Carver forced a fumble and recovered at the Dodge County 26-yard line. This time it took four plays and a little over a minute to complete the score. On the drive, McGee hit Hawkins again, this time for 18 yards, and running back Noah Hickey ran 4 yards for the touchdown.
Again, the Carver defense forced a turnover, this time on the second play of Dodge County's drive. Khane Pass jumped in front of a pass from Indians quarterback Cole Honeycutt. Three plays and barely over a minute later, Tigers running back Brandon Thomas crossed the goal line on a 38-yard run to make it 35-6.
McGee attributed a lot of the offensive success in that second quarter to a balanced offensive approach. While each score in the first half came on the ground, the Tigers were efficient through the air to keep the opposition's run defense honest.
"We spread the ball around well," McGee said. "We had some guys catching the ball and getting some good yards after the catch. At this point -- in the playoffs -- you have to be balanced. You can't let the defense key on your run game."
Hawkins, who finished the night with three catches for 73 yards, agreed on the importance of the passing game in Carver's offense.
"Most people come in thinking we're more of a running team," he said, "but we have to make sure we can open it up and keep the defense honest."
McGee had a handful of passes he'd probably like to have back, tossing three interceptions in the game. One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Dodge County's Marquis Floyd as time expired in the first half. Aside from those miscues, however, the quarterback was fairly efficient. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 170 yards, 37 of which came on a third-quarter touchdown pass to Drelon Freeman to put Carver ahead 42-14. He also added 38 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Defensively, the team did allow a long touchdown run to Indians running back Marcus Brown in the first quarter. Brown carried up the middle for 54 yards into the end zone to keep pace with Carver early.
McGee said Dodge County just executed better than the Tigers on the play.
The coach noted that the team came out a little flat in the second half after erupting in the second quarter, and that's something he said he'd address in practice this week. But, overall, he was happy with the effort.
"I'm pleased, for the most part," he said. "We need to step back, make sure we're healthy and get to work for next week."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571
Friday at A.J. Memorial Stadium
Dodge County 6 8 0 7--21
Carver 14 21 7 0--42
C--McGee 1 run (Lewis kick); 9:58
DC--Brown 54 run (kick failed); 7:25
C--McGee 17 run (Lewis kick); :9
C--Ryles 8 run (Lewis kick); 9:34
C--Hickey 4 run (Lewis kick); 8:01
C--Thomas 38 run (Lewis kick); 5:40
DC--Floyed 64 interception return (2-point good); :00
C--Freeman 37 pass from McGee (Lewis kick); 2:33
DC--Williams 6 run (Palmer kick); 11:14
Records: Dodge County (5-6); Carver (10-1). Next: Dodge County, season over; Carver, Friday vs. Rockmart in second round.