Central’s offense is still a work in progress, but it took a major step in the right direction Friday night in the team’s home opener.
A week after struggling in a 23-7 loss to Hoover quarterback Zion Webb threw for 190 yards and scored three touchdowns (two passing) to lead his team to a 36-0 win over Fairfield.
“It was fun to get the ball into playmakers hands,” Webb said. “It was a great feeling to air the ball out a little bit.”
The Red Devils benefited from the kind of defensive performance fans have become accustomed to in recent years. On the way to the shutout, the defense sacked opposing quarterback Demetrius Buford four times and forced four turnovers (three interceptions).
Fairfield’s biggest gains of the night came on questionable penalties (roughing the kicker and pass interference) and special teams. The Tigers crossed midfield two times the entire game and one of them was thanks to a kickoff return that gave them possession at their own 49-yard line.
When Fairfield made it into the red zone in the fourth quarter, Buford was tackled behind the line of scrimmage twice and flagged for a false start. A pass interference call in the end zone on Central wasn’t even enough for Fairfield to get a fresh set of downs.
The Red Devils defensive MJ Woods broke up a pass in the end zone and Karon Delince got a piece of Buford’s fourth down attempt to preserve the shutout.
“We want to show we mean something, intimidate every team we are going to play,” Central defensive back Demetrius Pettway said. “We took last week personally.”
Central shrugged off a sluggish start — 1 of 3 on third downs for two first downs in the first quarter — opening the second quarter with a 7-play, 51-yard scoring drive.
Quarterback Zion Webb made plays with his arm, connecting on pair of first down throws, and legs by scrambling for a 14-yard gain on a third and long.
Running back Jaxton Carson finished the drive off two plays later with a 10-yard run into the end zone.
“I was hard-headed in the first quarter,” DuBose said. “I wanted to run versus nine in the box, but I came out here tonight wanting to run the football. We aren’t going to be able to win a state championship or the region throwing it 30 times a game.”
Central’s defense picked off a fake punt attempt on Fairfield’s ensuing drive to give the Red Devils great field position at the Tigers’ 42-yard line.
Webb needed only two plays to orchestrate another scoring drive. The senior hit Justyn Ross on a deep 33-yard throw to set up his 9-yard touchdown run.
Central added a third touchdown going into halftime thanks to its two-minute offense. The Red Devils got the ball back with 47 seconds left on the clock and scored with time to spare.
Fairfield’s corner had no chance on a jump ball to Ross down the field. The 43-yard gain set up Webb’s first touchdown pass of the game to Anthony Miles at the 2-yard line.
After Central scored on its first drive of the second half, coach Jamey Dubose turned to his backups on offense to finish the game. Backup quarterback Peter Parrish threw a 9-yard touchdown to Drake Holloway off the bench at the end of the third quarter.
Central’s win came over a Fairfield team coached by former Red Devils defensive coordinator L.C. Cole. It was a tough night for Cole’s team, but his former boss wished him well the rest of the season.
“He’s a good friend, I told him good job,” DuBose said. “He’s doing the best he can. They are going to have a good season. He will get them ready to go.”
Friday at Garrett-Harrison Stadium
C – Jaxton Carson 10 rush (kick good), 9:44
C – Zion Webb 9 rush (two-point conversion failed), 7:41
C – Anthony Miles 2 pass from Webb (kick good), 17.2
C – Derrick Moore 42 pass from Webb (kick good), 9:14
C – Drake Holloway 9 pass from Peter Parrish (kick good), 28.4
C-Central, safety, 0:00
Records: Fairfield 0-1, Central 1-1. Next: Central, home vs. Auburn, Sept,. 2, 8 p.m.