Carnes' 5 TDs power Eastside past Westside
Califf Carnes and Dante Blackmon put on a passing clinic Friday that would have made Joe Montana and Jerry Rice proud. The tandem hooked up on two long first-half touchdowns as the Eagles built a 27-7 lead and one more in the second half and Eastside cruised to a 4113 win over Westside, Macon in the Class AAA playoff opener at Sharp Field.
"If you'd have told me this was going to the score tonight, I'd have laughed at you," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "The kids did a great job. They came out and executed the game plan. We knew we could get some stuff in the passing game if we found time but man did the offensive line give Califf all night long to throw the ball. The receivers did a great job of coming back and catching the ball after last week."
Carnes and Blackmon each had career nights. Carnes completed 9 of 19 passes for 223 yards and five touchdowns — three of them to Blackmon.
"What can you say about Califf? He put the ball on the money all night," Hurst said. "He made some big time throws. And I'm talking big time throws. I knew the kid had it in him, but he made some throws tonight I've never seen him make. But again, it was the protection — the backs stepping up and taking on the blitz and then
receivers making the catch. It was just a total team effort."
After a tough game where he had two drops last week versus Henry County, Blackmon responded in a big way. He caught four passes for 186 yards including touchdowns of 63, 53 and 30 yards and has five touchdowns the past two games.
"I think he (Blackmon) had a little bit of redemption on his mind after a couple of drops last week," Hurst said. "That happened to him earlier in the year. He had that game against Newton where he dropped the ball then he went off in the next game. So he was focused tonight. You could tell he wanted it."
After a slow start, Alex Smith had a nice night on the ground, rushing for 117 yards on 22 carries with a 26yard touchdown to round out Eastside's balanced attack. The Eagles amassed more than 350 yards of offense.
"We feel like we can move the ball either way," Hurst said. "That's what the pass does. It loosens them up and we were able to run the football toward the end of the first half and the whole second half. They (Westside) have been hard to rush for 100 yards on all year. I think Peach and Baldwin might have done it to them but they probably haven't given up 100 yards rushing in a while."
Defensively, the Eagles starters held Westside under 150 yards and sacked quarterback Daniel Duhart six times. Sheldon Rankins led the sack parade with three while fellow defensive linemen Shaquille Huff and Jerrell Crowder each registered one.
"What can you say? They are all over the place," Hurst said of his defensive line. "If we get up on you now — and those guys can pin their ears back, it's amazing to watch Jerrell and those guys put the pressure on. In the second half, we went mostly with a three-man front and they were getting him (Duhart) with three guys. It's just a testament to those three guys and their desire to get back there and the competition amongst them they talk about, but also help (they give) each other. If one flushes they know the other one is going to get the sack. Those three – you just don't get to coach (players like) that very often."
Blackmon also contributed on defense with a onehanded interception late in the fourth quarter to turn the Seminoles away on their second to last drive. Westside's second team offense scored a late touchdown on Eastside's reserves to make it 41-13.
The Eagles got it going offensively early and often. After a 20-yard punt gave Eastside the ball at Westside's 44, the Eagles wasted no time taking advantage. Carnes hit Blackmon on a 40-yard strike on third-and-9 to set up a 3-yard touchdown pass to Matt Hitchcock.
Eastside took just one play on its next drive to score again. Carnes hit Blackmon in tight coverage at the Westside 40 and the junior wideout took it 63 yards to make it 13-0 after Cody Sandler's extra point.
Westside scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 3-yard run by D.J. Wilson to cap a 58-yard drive. It was the Seminoles longest drive of the night.
Eastside made it 20-7 after Smith capped a long drive with a nifty 26-yard touchdown run. The Eagles didn't stand pat. After taking over at its own 35 inside of two minutes to play in the half, Carnes hit Blackmon again, this time for 63 yards to put the Eagles up 27-7 at the half.
Carnes put the game on ice with a 6-yard touchdown pass — his fourth of the game, to Jake Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter. He added another score with a 30-yard pass to Blackmon with 7:50 left in the game to put the Eagles up 41-7.
"I thought we played physical tonight," Hurst said. "I challenged the offensive line and I thought we played as physical a game as we played all year."
By virtue of Cairo's 40-17 win over Richmond Academy, the Eagles travel south for a rematch of their 2008 third-round loss to the Syrupmakers.
"Nobody is going to give us a chance," Hurst said. "Nobody outside of our team and the parents and maybe some in the community are giving us a shot. But I guarantee were going to go down there and play confident. With the way we're playing right now, anything can happen. We're more physical than we were then and I feel like we can matchup defensively with anybody."