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Central chances washed away by flood of Dyer County

Central chances washed away by flood of Dyer County
When it rains, it pours.

Drowning under a deluge of its own turnovers and the hail of Dyer County points that followed, Obion Central sank to its seventh loss in as many games with a 61-12 washout at the hands of the Choctaws Friday night in Troy.

Five interceptions and a lost fumble led directly to a flood of 40 DC points and the fourth-largest point total allowed in the 47-year history of OCCHS football.

The Rebels have turned the ball over 28 times this season, sinking any chances they’ve had at victory and greatly contributing to a string of blowouts that has seen their closest game being a 19-point loss to Ripley in Week 2.

The latest of those lopsided decisions spoiled what was actually a solid first-half effort against an upstart Choctaw unit that has lost just once in seven games and stayed hot on the heels of Region 7-3A leader and second-ranked Dyersburg.

Central threatened on its first offensive possession, forced two turnovers of its own in the first quarter and actually led 6-0 on Patrick Haskins’ seven-yard run on the first play of the second period before DC scored three times during a three-minute stretch late in the first half. The Choctaws then blew the game open during a three-minute span early in the third quarter when they scored four
times — three following Rebel turnovers.

“The final score was deceiving. We played hard and we played a lot better than 61-12,” first-year Obion Central coach Jason Driggers said afterward. “We’re obviously still struggling with turnovers, and I’ll take most of the blame for those with some poor play-calling. We aren’t good enough to overcome big plays by our opponents and that type of adversity.”

“Again, though, I know things got out of hand on the scoreboard, but that is not indicative of how our kids fought. They played a lot harder than they have the last two weeks.”

Adam Clark came off the bench to throw for 220 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a fifth score to lead the Choctaws’ offensive outburst. Jared Hunter and Erick Bernard each caught two passes for TDs in DC’s spread-set, no-huddle
attack.

It was the Dyer County defense, though, a unit that returned one interception for a score, another to the one and a third pick to the Central two yard-line that regularly gave its offense a short field to negotiate for points.

The Rebels, who were outgained just 213-199 in the first half when they trailed 27-12 at the intermission, again shuffled their lineup in an attempt to discover consistent offense.

Sophomore Zack Cavness became the fourth different quarterback to start for OC this season and showed some bright spots, despite the aforementioned five interceptions. Cavness threw for 193 yards, 168 of those in the first half.

Chase Clanton, who has spent time at running back and QB, was shifted to split-end and caught a game-best seven balls for 83 yards, while Garret Montgomery snagged four passes for a team-high 87 yards.

“We went with a little different lineup and we had some growing pains, but those kids did a good job and have a good future,” Driggers added. “I think we may’ve found some things we can do on a consistent basis. We just have to continue to work at getting better every day.”

Back-to-back sacks of DC starter Peyton Lucas by Jordan Clouse and Jake Morris — the second of which produced a fumble that Austin Hopper recovered — represented the second Choctaw turnover of their first three possessions.

Lucas Fulbright’s bell-ringing blow to Toby Cashion on a punt had earlier forced a fumble that Sean Green recovered, and a Aaron Cary sack of Lucas late in the opening stanza stymied a Dyer County drive deep in Rebel territory and set the stage for Central’s first touchdown and a 6-0 Rebel lead.

On first down following the change of possession, Cavness scrambled before finding Montgomery with a deep-ball all alone behind the Tribe secondary for a 63-yard gain to the 10. After a Haskins’ run lost a yard, Cavness then perfectly executed the option around left end, carrying four yards before pitching to a trailing Haskins who rambled the final seven and over a defender into the endzone.

Not long afterward, however, it began raining turnovers on the Rebel side and DC capitalized.

Cavness’ first pick was returned by Eric McLin from the Central 28 to the one, with B.A. Davis then converting the miscue into points on a two-yard dive one play later. Hopper blocked the PAT, leaving the count briefly tied at 6.

Clark, the Choctaw starting QB at the beginning of the season who was hurt in Week 2 and has since alternated with Lucas now that he’s healthy, then entered and threw touchdown passes of 12 and 53 yards to Davis on simple screens on which Davis did most of the work. A 17-yard scoring pass to a leaping Bernard at 2:46 of the second quarter followed a second Cavness interception and made it 27-6.

The Rebels then mounted their best drive of the night to draw within 27-12 at halftime after Cavness sneaked for the third straight time, finally denting the endzone from the one with five second left before intermission.

A 16-yard completion to Clanton and a 13-yard dark to Montgomery were the key plays in an 11-play, 61-yard march.

DC exploded immediately after the break, though — aided by two interceptions and a fumble on the Rebels’ first three second-half possessions.

Clark and Bernard hooked up again, this time from 14 yards out, Jeff Miller returned an interception 15 yards for a TD, and a Kyle King pick that was returned to the two set up Clark’s two-yard scramble to paydirt to make it 47-12 with the second half barely three minutes old.

With the clock running continuously via the 35-point mercy rule, the Choctaws scored twice more to account for the final margin.

Obion Central plays host to Covington this week.

Game notes: Mark Kissell topped the Central tackle chart with 11 total stops, eight of those solo hits. Both Clint Jones and Aaron Cary were credited with seven hits apiece. …The Rebels need a victory in their three games to avoid the third winless season in the history of the program. Only the 1978 team coached by Jim McPeake and the 1988 OC squad piloted by Jim Wiggins previously went 0-10.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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