CHHS Trojans hand Eagles first loss
A touchdown drive to start the second half. A 72-yard touchdown run. Even a backward kickoff.
Whatever Booker T. Washington threw at Charles Henderson on Friday night, the Trojans had answers.
Charles Henderson improved to 3-0 in region play and 4-1 overall when it earned a 28-13 homecoming victory over the previously undefeated Golden Eagles at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium. BTW fell to 4-1 overall, 2-1 in Class 5A, Region 2.
The Trojans displayed their best mix of power football and big-play ability since the opening weeks of the season. The offense gained 350 yards. Junior quarterback Jared Loftin was 9-for-15 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns. The defense surrendered yardage, but not many points.
Henderson set the tone early. Tailback Joey Moultry ran 44 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Loftin fired a strike to Quavian Lewis, who had two steps on BTW's Ontonio Whitaker on a quick slant pattern.
Lewis caught the pass for a 30-yard touchdown. Michael Partridge made the first of four PATs to give the Trojans a quick 7-0 lead.
The same combination, Loftin-to-Lewis, put CHHS ahead by two touchdowns late in the first half. After holding on downs, the Trojans moved from their own 31 to the BTW 44. A 6-yard gain by Moultry on third-and-3 kept the drive alive. But on second-and-8 from the 44, Loftin again found Lewis on the slant. The 6-foot-4 senior split defenders Charles Perona and Ontonio Whitaker, caught the pass in stride and sped to the end zone with two minutes remaining in the first half.
"We knew the slant would be there all night," Loftin said. "We kept going back to it."
BTW, which was off to its best start in school history, trailed 14-0 at halftime but got back into the game with a big drive to start the second half.
The Eagles featured running back Aremed Kitt on a nine-play, 69-yard drive. Kitt rushed three times for 19 yards and capped the drive by taking quarterback Wesley Williams' swing pass in the right flat and going 20 yards for a touchdown. He got a great block from Darrius Gullette
that opened the right sideline. Antonio Cole kicked the PAT to make it a 14-7 game with 7:30 left in the third quarter.
"At halftime, we said we wanted to run right at them in the second half," CHHS coach Hugh Fountain said. "We didn't change just because they scored."
The Trojans answered the score with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that was brutally efficient.
Marquino Siler, best known as the team's middle linebacker, ran from the tailback position on the drive. He followed fullback Reginal Toney into the teeth of the BTW defense. Siler gained 11 yards on the first play, six on the second. Toney took dive off right guard and gained 10 more.
When BTW clogged the middle to stop the attack, Loftin threw a fade down the left sideline that Demonte King caught over Whitaker. The play picked up 23 yards to the BTW 27-yard line. Five straight Siler carried took the ball to the 1. Loftin capped the drive with a quarterback sneak for the touchdown. CHHS led 21-7, with 2:24 left in the third quarter.
"Marquino made some big runs there," Loftin said. "That was a great drive. We run most of the time."
Henderson nearly put the game away on the next two possessions. First, they stopped BTW on fourth-and-inches at the BTW 35. Two plays later, Loftin hit King with another slant route for a touchdown that covered 35 yards.
"Not much to it," King said. "It was wide open. I just had to catch it."
King said the team very much wanted to win on homecoming.
"If we had lost, everybody at school would have been talking to us," he said.
Instead, everybody left happy. Even BTW, which scored a second touchdown on a fine run by Kitt. On fourth-and-2 from their own 28, the Golden Eagles went for the first down and got more. Kitt took a handoff at left tackle and bounced outside. He turned the corner and had enough for the first down when Zaccheus Etheridge made a solid hit. Kitt spun out of the tackle, kept his balance and took off for the goal line. The play covered 72 yards and came with 4:22 left in the game. A bad snap thwarted the extra point, leaving the score 28-13.
BTW coach Mark Hurt said Kitt, who finished with 116 yards on nine carries, is a tough player.
"He plays defense, too," Hurt said. "He never comes off the field and he never quits."
Then came that kickoff. Needing the ball back immediately, BTW tried an onsides kick. The kicker nearly missed the ball, which was spinning wildly like a trick-shot cue ball in pool. The ball simply curved in an arc toward the left sideline and kept spinning backward. BTW downed the ball on the 33 – after kicking off from the 40.
"I've never seen that before," Fountain said.
"We lost our focus a bit in the second half. They wore us down," Hurt said. "We've got a lot of guys going both ways. Charles Henderson exposed some things we need to work on. They've got a lot of great athletes. They're a sound football team."
Fountain said the team's execution was improved.
"I was proud of the effort," he said. "Our offense made plays. Our defense missed some tackles but I think played pretty well. Games with us and BTW always seem to be close. We won up there last year 13-3 and didn't score an offensive touchdown. They had a lot of guys back. They threw the ball a lot more than they had this season."
CHHS visits Russell County in another region game this Friday.