Ri­valry rout

High School Foot­ball Sand Rock shuts out Collinsville in first meet­ing since 1997

Cherokee County Herald - - SPORTS - By Shan­non Fa­gan Sports Ed­i­tor

SAND ROCK – Like so many other cur­rent Sand Rock and Collinsville foot­ball play­ers, all Wild­cat se­nior run­ning back Braden Carver had heard is how big a ri­valry Sand Rock and Collinsville Pan­thers used to have.

The cur­rent play­ers weren’t even born the last time the schools met on the field in 1997.

But on Friday night at Sand Rock, Carver added his own chap­ter in a re­newed ri­valry. He ran for 267 yards and three touch­downs on 18 car­ries and also broke a score­less tie in the sec­ond quar­ter with his 35-yard touchdown catch from ju­nior quar­ter­back Jansen Alexan­der.

Sand Rock’s de­fense took care of the rest in a 34-0 vic­tory that se­cured the Wild­cats’ first home play­off game since 2008.

“All we heard was talk grow­ing up, so be­ing able to live it, be­ing able to play in the at­mos­phere, it’s un­be­liev­able. It feels great,” Carver said.

It was also the sec­ond shutout post- ed by the Wild­cat de­fense this sea­son. Sand Rock (6-2, 5-1 Class 2A, Re­gion 6) earned its first shutout of the sea­son at Ider in a 27-0 vic­tory back on Sept. 9.

The loss marked the sec­ond straight week Collinsville (4-4, 3-3) has been blanked on the score­board. The Pan­thers lost last week to topranked Fyffe 47-0.

Prior to the last two weeks, the last time the Pan­thers were shut out two con­sec­u­tive weeks was 2003 (27-0 at Geral­dine Sept. 26 and 34-0 to Cedar Bluff Oct. 3).

“Our de­fense played lights out,” Sand Rock coach Steven Ch­es­nut said. “We got lucky a time or two. They (Collinsville) got be­hind us and they just didn’t con­nect. I told my guys at half­time they were one play from break­ing it. They’ve got so much tal­ent on the of­fen­sive side, but our de­fense played great. Coach (Jeff) Nor­ris had a great game plan for them. What­ever he says I’m like, ‘OK, that’s good enough for me.’”

Ac­tu­ally, both teams’ de­fenses stole the show be­fore Carver be­gan run­ning wild in the sec­ond half.

Sand Rock had the game’s first scor­ing op­por­tu­nity, driv­ing down to the Collinsville 4-yard line on its first of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion of the game. The Pan­ther de­fense stiff­ened, forc­ing the Wild­cats had to set­tle for se­nior Josh Sar­ratt’s 30-yard field goal at­tempt with 4:23 left in the open­ing quar­ter. Sar­ratt’s at­tempt missed the mark, keep­ing the game score­less.

Collinsville (4-4, 3-3) put to­gether a sub­stan­tial drive to open the sec­ond quar­ter, march­ing all the way down to the Sand Rock 8. How­ever, the Wild­cat de­fense re­turned the fa­vor, forc­ing the Pan­thers to set­tle for ju­nior Isiah Avila’s 25-yard field goal try with 6:13 left in the first half. Avila’s kick was also no good.

Carver and Alexan­der helped the Wild­cats move down to the Collinsville 27 on their en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, but Pan­ther se­nior line­man Steven Wash killed the drive with a div­ing in­ter­cep­tion. Three plays later, how­ever, Sand Rock ju­nior de­fen­sive back Austin Black­stock picked off Collinsville se­nior quar­ter­back Grant Jones, giv­ing the Wild­cats the ball back at their own 44 with 2:51 re­main­ing in the first half.

This time, the Wild­cat of­fense cap­i­tal­ized on Carver’s 35-yard touchdown re­cep­tion from Alexan­der. Sar­ratt’s ex­tra point gave Sand Rock a 7-0 lead with 1:59 to go be­fore half­time.

Sand Rock’s de­fense forced Collinsville to punt on its next pos­ses­sion, and once again, the Wild­cats were driv­ing with less than a minute left in the first half. A 28-yard scram­ble by Alexan­der set the Wild­cats up at the Collinsville 32, but two plays later, Alexan­der threw his sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion of the game – this time to the await­ing arms of Pan­ther fresh­man de­fen­sive back Kaleb Jones that es­sen­tially ended the half.

“We just couldn’t find our rhythm (in the first half),” Ch­es­nut said. “We got down there three or four times in the first half and just kind of sput­tered – a penalty here or a dropped ball there, but we’ve been a good sec­ond-half team all year long. It just goes back to the work they do in the off-sea­son – the grind­ing and grind­ing and grind­ing and fin­ish­ing.”

Carver be­gan to carve up Collinsville’s de­fense from the open­ing kick­off of the sec­ond half. It was his re­turn of 50 yards that set the Wild­cats up at the Collinsville 40. From there, Carver had two runs of 14 yards, a 3-yard run, and a 9-yard touchdown to put Sand Rock in front 14-0 with 10:13 re­main­ing in the third quar­ter.

“They stung us pretty quick (in the sec­ond half), and I guess it took a lit­tle air out of our bal­loon,” Collinsville coach Ernie Willing­ham said. “I didn’t feel like we played very hard af­ter that. They’ve got a re­ally good team all the way around – big and strong and phys­i­cal. (Carver’s) hard to tackle one-on-one. He’s just a good player.”

Collinsville man­aged to put to­gether another sub­stan­tial drive on its en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, but the drive ended with an in­ter­cep­tion by Sand Rock ju­nior line­backer Brett Jack­son near the goal line. Jack­son re­turned the ball all the way to the Wild­cat 45. One play later, Carver dashed 55 yards for another score, putting Sand Rock in front 21-0.

Carver ran for a 9-yard touchdown with 7:44 to go in the fourth. Alexan­der scored on a 23-yard run with 5:15 left for the fi­nal.

Alexan­der fin­ished the game with 94 yards on 11 car­ries with a touchdown. He was also 4-of-12 through the air for 65 yards and a touchdown.

“We were ner­vous, no doubt, but you can’t lay down against a team like that,” Alexan­der said. “Our O-line blocked great, but the back half of their de­fense is quick. When the pocket breaks down, you’ve got to go.”

Grant Jones led Collinsville by com­plet­ing 11-of-24 pass attempts for 54 yards. Kaleb Jones had four catches for 42 yards.

“It was a dif­fer­ence of two halves,” Willing­ham said. “We didn’t come out in the sec­ond half and play ball. I don’t think we played hard enough.”

Both Willing­ham and Ch­es­nut said they’re glad both teams are play­ing each other again.

“You saw how the crowd was. Sand Rock made a lot of money tonight,” Willing­ham said. “I played in this game four times, and it’s been 19 years since we’ve played one. I’m tick­led with play­ing them again. The par­ents, grandparents and ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity are fired up about play­ing. I just hope we can make a bet­ter show­ing than this from now on.”

“It was special,” added Ch­es­nut. “You’ve got fam­i­lies on both sides who have kids or grand­kids, peo­ple who go to church to­gether. There are good peo­ple in both places. It’s just a good time. We came out on the good end this year, but next year may be to­tally dif­fer­ent. The records don’t mat­ter in a game like this. You’ve just got to go play and ex­e­cute.”

Shan­non Fa­gan / Chero­kee County Her­ald

Sand Rock ju­nior quar­ter­back Jansen Alexan­der, right, tries to es­cape the grasp of Collinsville’s Steven Wash on a run Friday night.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.