UNION — Fairfield Central (4-0) head coach Demetrius Davis enjoyed his first trip to Union (0-4) this past Friday, as his Griffins exploded for a 35-11 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Fairfield Central’s defense held Union to just 1-10 on third downs, giving up only 123 total yards, while recording eight sacks and four interceptions.
The win avenged a 42-40 loss to Union last season, and Davis picked on his defense all week by posting signs that said Steven Taneyhill (Union head coach) 42 and Fairfield Central 40 to motivate his players.
“I was hoping to put a fire under them and they really showed up tonight and executed a great game plan,” Davis said after the game. “We weren’t going to let the quarterback stand back there and pick us apart. We wanted to pressure on him all night.”
Fairfield Central’s win was powered by a nearly flawless third quarter. The Griffin offense took advantage of three Union turnovers to score on three straight possessions.
Offensively, the Griffins hammered out 226 yards on the ground along with 159 through the air. Larry G. Bell led the way by scoring three touchdowns for the second week in a row, to go along with a season high 101 yards. Bell now has a team high eight touchdowns this season.
Fairfield Central’s offense got off to a slow start after two three-and-outs from dropped passes on third down.
Sandwiched between those two drives was a Compton Walker interception. After snagging the pass, Walker landed awkwardly on his shoulder and did not play the rest of the night. After the game Davis said he hopes the injury is only a sprain. Walker will be evaluated day to day.
Union drew first blood when Blake Berry booted a 31-yard field goal to cap off a nine play drive. The scoring drive was fueled by Christian Petty, who carried the ball five times on the drive. Petty finished with a team high 45 yards on the ground.
The deficit was the first the Griffins had faced since the first quarter of the opening game at Westwood.
However, the lead did not last long because Fairfield put together a touchdown drive that used 11 plays, which took four minutes off the clock. Larry G. Bell polished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Bell also converted a fourth down play when he picked up three yards on a rushing play. The big play of the drive came from a 39-yard reception by Kewan Squirewell, that gave the Griffins the ball at the Union 20-yard line.
On Union’s ensuing drive, the Yellow Jackets threatened to score after a 60-yard kickoff return. Eventually the drive would stall after a sack and two incompletions.
After the punt, Fairfield put together another touchdown drive. This time the drive took just over four minutes off the clock and used 14 plays, with Bell again punching the ball across the goal line. Javahnne Neal caught a pass from Stanley McManus on the two-point conversion to give the Griffins at 15-3 lead at the half.
Facing a third down play on their first drive of the third quarter, Matt Barnett forced a pass toward the sideline, which was intercepted by Josh Bell. It was Bell’s second pick of the season.
It would take the Griffins’ offense two-and-half minutes to score the touchdown in the form of a 1-yard pass to Squirewell on fourth down. The touchdown catch was Squirewell’s second catch of the drive, and he finished with four catches for 99 yards and a score.
On their next possession, Union would again be picked off. This time it would Shadarius Hopkins coming away with his third interception of the season.
Joesph Young scored his lone touchdown of the game from one yard out to cap the ensuing drive and give the Griffins a 28-3 lead. Young finished the game with 18 rushes for 96 yards, his highest output of the season.
For the third straight possession, a Union quarterback would throw an interception. This time it would be Neal who came away with the turnover, his first of the season.
On the heels of a 39-yard run by Young, the Griffins set up with a first and 10 at the Union 12-yard line. Bell ran off the left side for his third touchdown of the night and give the Griffins at 35-3 advantage.
Sophomore quarterback Dierrus Smith would come into the game for the Yellow Jackets on the next drive. Smith was arguably the Yellow Jackets best performer of the night. Under his leadership the Yellow Jackets drove to the Fairfield Central 30-yard line, but were turned away after back-to-back sacks to force a turnover on downs.
Union added a touchdown late, when Smith dove for the pylon on a five yard run with 17 seconds remaining. Smith kept the drive alive with a 16-yard run on fourth down. He would also rush for the two point conversion, but it was all too little too late as the Griffins walked away with a 35-11 victory to remain undefeated.
Fairfield Central quarterback DeAndre Belton was held to his lowest rushing total (21 yards) of the season. After the game, Davis talked about Union’s defensive game plan.
“They were overloading us inside and completely had a plan to not allow DeAndre (Belton) to run the ball,” he noted. “But once you take one thing away you’re going to give up something else.”
That “something else” — Larry G. Bell and Joseph Young combined for 197 yards.
“We are blessed to have those two guys back there,” Davis said. “You can’t stop them all and you have to pick your poison.”
Fairfield has one more non-region contest when Cheraw visits E.K. Mclendon stadium on Sept. 27.
“Cheraw is coming in next week and they’re going to be after some redemption from last year,” Davis stated. “I think we can do whatever it takes to get it done, but we have to take it one game at a time. If we can stay healthy I think we have a chance to do some great things this year. We have to come to work everyday though because it only takes one game for everything to go downhill.”
Cheraw (1-3) is coming off a 28-0 loss to Hartsville. Last season the Griffins defeated Cheraw 42-6 in the regular season and 27-10 in the playoffs. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.