WINNSBORO — In a game that took nearly three hours to play, Fairfield Central (8-0, 3-0) defeated the Raiders of Keenan (5-3, 2-1) by a score of 38-0.
With the win, Fairfield stayed undefeated against Keenan all-time with 12 wins in 12 games. In those 12 games, the Griffin defense has held Keenan to just 51 points.
The Griffins have won 14 straight regular season games, including 10 straight region games dating back to 2011.
The win over Keenan was powered by a running game spearheaded by Larry G. Bell and Joseph Young. Both runners went over the century mark, making it the first time this season Fairfield has had two 100-yard rushers.
“I thought Larry (Bell) and Joe (Young) ran the ball hard tonight and they did a great job,” Griffins head coach Demetrius Davis said after the game. “If we can keep running the football like that then we’re going to be pretty good. Anytime you can run the football and play good defense then you have a chance to win.”
Solid defense is the second part to that equation, but the Griffins have that covered as well. In their first three region games, Fairfield has outscored their opponents 146-6. On Friday night, the Griffin defense held Keenan to just 126 yards on 49 plays, an average of anemic 2.6 yards per play.
“Defense is looking real good,” Davis noted. “Those guys are playing lights out on that side of the ball and that is probably why our offense is playing so well too.”
It was a wacky start to the final home game of the regular season for the Griffins. It started when they lost their first coin toss of the season. However, it appeared Young recovered the kick at the Keenan 41-yard line.
After the Griffin offense was on the field ready to snap the ball, Keenan’s head coach convinced a referee of a SCHSL rule that says the kickoff must hit the ground before the kicking team can recover it.
With that argument, the Raiders took over possession.
“I don’t know the rule and I’m going to have to look it up,” Davis said after the game. “They said that the kickoff has to hit the ground, but when I was at South Carolina State we used to run that all the time and it was call the sky-kick, but I respect that they made the right call there.”
Despite the Griffins losing that battle, they would rightfully take over after Keenan’s running back Tiski Gray fumbled on the first offensive play from scrimmage. Shadarius Hopkins recovered the loose ball and gave the Griffins possession at the Keenan 37-yard line.
Facing a third down with 10 yards to go, DeAndre Belton completed his first pass of the game to Tyren White, who pulled off a nifty cutback move towards the middle of the field to score from 37 yards out. Compton Walker’s extra point was good and the Griffins staked their claim to a 7-0 lead.
Keenan’s second possession was plagued by two false start penalties, and the Raiders were forced to punt.
It would take Fairfield just over three minutes to score on the 11th play of the drive. Larry G. Bell finished off the drive with a two-yard sprint over the left side.
Keenan’s next drive would be a three-and-out, and Fairfield’s offense would set up at their own 45-yard line.
On the third play of the drive, Javaris Cook made a dazzling 29-yard catch on the left sideline with a defender draped all over him. Two plays later, Young scored his first of two touchdowns when he shot right up the middle for a 39-yard score.
Heading into the second quarter, Fairfield led Keenan 19-0.
Belton threw his first interception of the season during Fairfield’s first drive of the second quarter. Kewan Squirewell who appeared to have single coverage was the target, but Keenan’s safety Kendrick Gathers was shading toward Squirewell’s side and cut the pass off just before it fell into the hands of Squirewell.
After not throwing an interception through the first seven games, Belton would throw three during Friday night’s contest.
“Two of his interceptions were pretty bad,” Davis stated. “But there was one in the endzone that the receiver should have caught.”
Despite the interception, Keenan was unable to capitalize because Gray would put the ball on the ground for the second time,as Chris Boyd recovered for the Griffins.
Fairfield would score on their ensuing possession, going 70 yards in 10 plays. The drive was kept alive on fake-punt on fourth down, when Walker picked up 10 yards on the ground from a direct snap.
Keenan’s following drive would end in yet another punt, after Chanti Jones recorded a sack forcing a fourth down with 18 yards to go.
With just under five minutes remaining in the half, Fairfield would extend their lead with a Belton touchdown run leaving just a minute on the clock. Belton was reminiscent of a water bug, as he side-stepped and juked his way through traffic and into the endzone.
The scoring drive went 10 plays and was kept afloat when Squirewell caught a 12-yard pass on fourth down.
At the half, the Griffins led Keenan 31-0.
Fairfield would tack on one more score, as they started the second half with an eight play drive that went 77 yards in two minutes. Larry G. Bell started the drive with a 37 yard run, and then would polish the drive off by pounding the football up the middle from three yards out.
With the win Fairfield has the inside track to the region championship and can clinch the region with a win over Pelion on Oct. 25. Pelion (5-3, 3-0) is coming off a 39-15 win over Columbia, and have won three straight games.
Even with the post-season on the horizon, Davis said his staff and players are only taking one at a time.
“We’re only thinking about Pelion,” he stated. “Hopefully we can go there and put together a complete game and then after that we’ll get ready for North Central and then after that who ever is on our schedule we will get ready to play them.”
Kickoff at Pelion is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.