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Eagles ground Vols' hopes

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Central High holds off AJ's second-half charge for win

By Kim Roberts

 

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PAGELAND – Central rolled up 417 rushing yards and eliminated Andrew Jackson, 38-21 in the second round of the Class AA Upper State Division II playoffs in Pageland on Friday, Nov. 15.

Eagles senior running backs Mitch Meadows and Quan Welch rushed for 184 and 199 yards, respectively as Central defeated AJ for the second time in three weeks.

CHS beat the Vols 35-0 in the last regular-season game of 2013 on Nov. 1.

“We got in a hole quickly, but we had a couple of nice drives that did not turn into points in the first half,” AJ coach David Moore said. “We drove to the Central 29 and couldn’t pick up the first down.

“We have a very good drive to the Central 11, and their tackle gets penetration and upends our back, causing a fumble,” added Moore. “Give Central credit, they used their quickness to disrupt some of the things we wanted to do.”

Moore added he was pleased with the AJ seniors.

“I am so proud of this senior group,” he added. “They never quit tonight or the whole year. Many of our guys had to switch positions, or play where they have never played.”

Central set the tenor of the game, driving 66 yards in nine plays on its first possession. Welch covered the last three yards for the score. Joseph Rollings kicked the first of his five extra points for a 7-0 CHS lead with 7:47 left in the first period.

After AJ moved to the CHS 30, the drive stalled at the 29 on a fourth-and-one from the Eagles 30.

After an exchange of punts, Central needed only two plays to cover 39 yards for their second touchdown of the night.

Welch again was the workhorse, capping the drive with a five-yard TD run. AJ trailed 14-0 with 9:07 left in the half.

It looked as if the Vols were going to cut the CHS lead in half, but a great play by the CHS tackle forced a fumble at the Eagles 11.

Three plays later, Welch sprinted 78 yards for a back-breaking touchdown before the half.

“Central was able to make plays and we didn’t when we needed,” Moore said.

The resilient Vols pulled a Lee Corso-like “not so fast my friend” to start the second half.

AJ drove 61 yards in five plays for their first score against Central since 2009.AJ southpaw quarterback Kolby Whitley got hot and rattled off three straight completions on the drive.

Tray King caught a six-yard pass for the score. Corley Faulkenberry had a 36-yard catch and King snared a 21-yard reception on the drive.

The kick was wide, but AJ sliced the lead to 21-6 with 10:27 left in the third.

The Eagles responded by driving to the AJ 13 in nine plays. Rollings drilled a 30 yard field goal to up the Eagles’ lead to 24-6 with five minutes left in the third.

The scrappy Vols continued to battle and covered 56 yards for a touchdown in only two plays.

Whitley found Dustin Eddins for a 33-yard grab.. Whitley then dropped a 23-yard text book bomb to King. McKenzie Dinkins nailed the kick and comeback-minded AJ trailed 24-13.

Central used Mitch Meadows exclusively on its next TD drive. Meadows carried four times that spanned 57 yards. He capped the Eagles’  scoring drive from five yards out and CHS led 31-13.

Central recovered an onsides kick at the AJ 37 to set up their next score.

Ten plays later, Meadows bulled his way into the end zone from the five-yard line. Central led 38-13 with 10:11 left.

“We were able to run the ball and that gave us a chance to win,” Central coach Craig Hatcher said. “AJ threw a lot at us tonight and came after us, but I felt our linemen responded and were able to handle it.

“AJ played hard and never quit out there, but that was what we expected. We knew we would get their best shot and that they would battle us all the way. Coach Moore and his staff had them ready to play.”

The Vols continued to battle and marched 69 yards in 14 plays for their third touchdown of the night.

Whitley capped the scoring drive with a clutch scoring toss to Dustin Eddins with 3:33 to go.

Whitley tossed a pass to Heath Gandy for the two-point conversion.

AJ finished the 2013 season with a 5-7 mark after an 0-2 start.

Individually, junior quarterback  Kolby Whitley completed 20-34 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

Whitley also picked up six yards on nine attempts.

Anthony White rushed four times for 23 yards.

In receiving, Tray King caught five passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Corley Faulkenberry snared seven passed for 64 yards.

Dustin Eddins had two catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. 

Heath Gandy had four receptions for 16 yards, including a two-point conversion after the Vols’ final touchdown of the game.

Anthony White had two catches for 10 yards.