By KEVIN WEAKS
Obion Central simply could not catch up to Haywood’s fast start.
Using a hurry-up, no-huddle offense to start the game, the Tomcats scored just 71 seconds into the game and then tacked on three more touchdowns before the Rebels finally got on the board in what was eventually a 53-14 Haywood win Friday night at Troy.
The outcome spoiled Senior Night for Central and continued a season of frustration for the Rebel program, out of the playoffs in 2012 after winning nine games and reaching the second round of postseason play the year before.
Central is now 2-7 overall and 1-5 in District 13AA and will close the season this weekend at Dyersburg. Haywood, also without an invitation to the postseason party, is now 3-6 and 1-5.
Keeping up with the other team has been a problem for the Rebels all season. Central has now been outscored 94-14 in the opening period.
This time around, the skill and speed of Haywood’s backs and receivers proved to be too much for OC.
“They got off to a good start,” Rebel head coach Shawn Jackson said. “They have a bunch of playmakers, and it’s our worst nightmare to play a spread team because we’re not very good at that. We’re not very good at defending the pass or people in space.”
Haywood certainly showed the Rebels plenty of weapons on offense.
Quarterback Bryce Young was much bigger than his 5-8, 155-pound frame showed by accounting for 363 yards and five touchdowns. He completed 16-of-23 passes for 263 yards and five scores while rushing for 100 yards and another TD on 15 carries.
Quintavious Caldwell reeled in six catches for 98 yards and a score, Martez Comage counted a 37-yard TD catch among his three receptions for 78 yards, and Equavious Barbee had four catches for 25 yards with two going for scores. Justice Brown was a playmaker with his feet, rushing for 67 yards and a score on 16 carries.
Combine that with several errors and a key injury up front to go against the Rebels, and it all added up to be yet another bad night.
Central fumbled on its first offensive play of the game and threw an interception on its sixth, saw a penalty move the ball off the Haywood one-yard-line on a drive that ended on downs without producing any points and failed to score on another drive into the red zone.
Central also saw center Hunter Short go out with what was believed to be a concussion midway through the second quarter.
“We were just out-matched from an athletic standpoint,” Jackson said. “Their kids looked better than anybody we’ve seen all year. They’re as fast and as good looking as anybody we’ve seen.”
That became evident from the game’s opening play.
Comage went 23 yards on his first try and added a 14-yard carry two plays later, while Young hit Caldwell for 10 yards to set up a nine-yard TD run by Brown at 10:49 of the first period.
While Haywood did not capitalize on OC’s first turnover, the second Rebel miscue set up the Tomcats’ second score.
Lineman Shemar Powell, at 6-1 and 285 pounds, reached up at the line of scrimmage and grabbed a Blake Berner pass then rumbled 18 yards to the Central 35-yard–line. Haywood was on the board two plays later on a 37-yard pass from Young to Comage.
OC reached the red zone on its next two tries but proved to be its own worst enemy both times. A block in the back penalty pushed a Berner run to the one-yard-line back to the 21, where the Rebs later gave up possession on downs. Later in the first period, Central drove to the ’Cat 13, but a couple of run-pass options by Josh Floyd were instead dropped for losses of 12 yards to end the quarter.
“We had it in the red zone twice but we turned it over once on downs because we made a bad decision and blocked a guy in the back,” Jackson said. “So, instead of it being 21-14, it wound up being 34-7.”
After Young had a six-yard TD run and a 25-yard pass to Caldwell on a pump fake for a 28-0 lead, Central put together its first scoring drive as Berner connected on a 28-yard pass to Camden Napper with 1:23 to play in the first half.
Not willing to kick deep Haywood’s speedsters, OC’s short kick set up the Tomcats just across midfield at the Rebel 49. Young covered the distance on one play, hitting Darvis Jarmon just nine seconds after Central’s score for a 34-7 halftime lead.
“We couldn’t kick it off deep to them,” Jackson said. “If you kick it deep, they’re going to run it back. They’ve run it back on people all year, so we had to gamble and pooch kick it to have a chance.”
It’s momentum late in the first half stolen away by one TD, OC’s shot at getting that momentum back to begin the third quarter was also ruined when the Rebs were stopped on downs and Haywood followed with a pair of touchdowns and a 46-7 lead.
Running a crossing pattern where Haywood’s Jarmon ran OC’s Jake Curlin to the outside to open up Barbee on a slant to the inside, Young found his man open for a three-yard TD pass at 8:50. A successful onside kick then set up another score 50 seconds later as Brown ran in from three yards out.
“That’s football,” Jackson said of Haywood’s short kick. “It’s our job to keep the score down, not theirs. Crybabies worry about stuff like that.”
The running clock brought on by the 39-point margin lasted as long as OC next drive, Berner completing a seven-play, 51-yard drive with a nine-yard toss to Blake Rudd at 3:32 of the third.
Haywood’s next score would bring back the running clock for good, Barbee catching a seven-yard scoring pass on the same slant rout as earlier with 51 seconds to play in the third.
Both teams reached far into the other’s territory in the quick fourth period only to come up empty.
Published in The Messenger 10.22.12