Carnes' 5 TDs power East­side past West­side

The Covington News - - Front page - Josh Briggs Sports Edi­tor

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."

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