WINNSBORO — Fairfield Central (11-0) began its 2013 playoff run with a 26-0 victory over the Keenan Raiders (7-5) on Friday night.
The Griffins were able to overcome 12 penalties for 135 yards. After the game, head coach Demetrius Davis said his team will have to play better to win in the next round.
“If we continue to play like this then we won’t be doing this too many more times,” he emphasized. “It is hard to play football when every time you do anything there is a holding penalty or a personal foul. It is frustrating and hopefully we can figure it out this week.”
With the win, Fairfield is now 35-19 all-time in post-season play.
On their opening drive, the Griffins ran 11 plays (all run plays) but were turned away on a fourth and goal play from the Keenan one-yard line. Larry G. Bell was unable to reach the edge and lost two yards on the play turning it over on downs.
However, Keenan was unable to keep the momentum. Throwing out of the shadow of his own goal post, Keenan quarterback Deion Trezevant was picked off by Compton Walker. It was the first of two interceptions by Walker.
Taking over at the Keenan 25-yard line, the Griffins used four running plays to reach the end zone. Larry G. Bell put the first points of the game on the board when ran off the right side to score from two yards out. Walker completed a pass to Javahnne Neal to convert the two-point conversion and give the Griffs an 8-0 lead.
Keenan’s second drive stalled after two consecutive false start penalties and they were forced to punt.
The Griffins took over at their own 36-yard line, but on the twelfth play of the drive DeAndre Belton was intercepted by Kendrick Gathers. Belton over threw his receiver down the middle of the field and Gathers came away with his eleventh pick of the season.
However the Fairfield defense would not be out done because they would come away with another turnover on the third play of Keenan’s ensuing drive. Roaming the middle of the field, Walker intercepted a pass that was lobbed down the left side to give the Griffins the ball at midfield.
On the following possession, Fairfield was facing a third down with 15 yards to go when Belton aired a pass down the middle to Walker, who climbed the ladder to come down with the football at the goal line. The two-point conversion was good as well, and Fairfield took a 16-0 lead halfway through the second quarter.
Through the first 18 minutes of play, Walker recorded two interceptions and scored points via offense and special teams.
“Without him (Walker) I don’t know where we would have been tonight,” Davis said after the game. “He is our chief cook and our dishwasher. He can do it all.”
Things would begin to get worse for the Raiders, facing a third down with 15 yards to go deep in their own territory. Griffins defensive end Chanti Jones recovered a fumble at the Keenan 20-yard line. Jones finished the night with four tackles, two sacks, one tackle for a loss and one fumble recovery.
Despite the good field position, a holding penalty pushed the Griffins back to the 15-yard line and elected to attempt a field goal on fourth and goal. Walker split the uprights from 32 yards away to give the Griffs a 19-0 lead at the half. It was Walker’s first field goal of the season on six attempts.
Keenan’s first drive of the second half took six minutes off the clock by running 12 plays, but they were unable to convert on a fourth down play. The Raiders were unsuccessful on four fourth down attempts in the second half.
“Our defense really got after them and I’m proud of the way we played on defense,” Davis said. “Our defense is good enough for us to win every night and I always tell our offensive guys that if we just score one time we will be able to win the football game.”
The Griffins would put the final points on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter after taking over possession on the Keenan 21-yard line after another failed fourth down attempt by the Raiders. It took Fairfield three plays to polish off the drive with a score. Larry G. Bell scored his second touchdown of the night when he knifed his way inside from three yards. Walker tacked on the extra point and the Griffins would go on to win 26-0.
Despite earning the victory, the Griffin offense never seemed to fire on all cylinders. According to Davis, 135 yards of penalties and being off last week had an effect on the offense’s executing.
“We just didn’t seem sharp,” he said. “We just didn’t play good and being an offensive minded guy I’m a little frustrated. Offensively we will need to play better to keep winning.”
The Griffins piled up 293 yards (5.4 yards per play) on offense, and were able to hold Keenan to just 44 yards (1.1 yards per play).
“I’m proud that we played good on defense I’m just a little frustrated offensively,” Davis noted.
With the win the Griffins remained undefeated against Keenan, 13-0 all-time. The Raiders have been held to just 51 points in those 13 contests, an average of just 3.9 points per game. For the season, the Fairfield defense has allowed only 8.8 points per game and that was their fourth shutout of the season.
Fairfield Central will host the Newberry Bulldogs (9-3) on Friday night in the third round of the state playoffs. The winner will advance to the upper-state championship to face either Pelion or Cheraw.
Newberry is coming off a 21-9 win over third-seeded Pendleton. Kickoff Friday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at E.K. Mclendon Stadium.