MILFORD – The battle between the Cavaliers ended up as a heartbreaker for Caroline.
Caroline played a hard-fought battle with King William’s Cavaliers before being nipped 32-30 on Friday night last week.
Caroline was competitive in the game until the finish. The team was advancing the ball to get within field goal range in the final minute.
“In this game you all played the full 48 minutes,” Caroline coach Jeremiah Ross told the Cavaliers in the post-tame huddle.
The emotion of the disappointment clearly showed on some Caroline players. Ross turned it into a positive. “You hurt because you care about what you are doing and you care about each other,” he told the team.
Caroline’s offense stalled at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth with the score tied. When quarterback Curtis Leacock was sacked, King William took over on downs at the Caroline 48-yard line. On the ensuing drive, Freeman McPhearson threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jason Gresham to give King William a 32-23 lead with 6:57 left in the game.
The Cavaliers would not give up. Daquan Pollard ran back the King William kickoff to the KW 49-yard line. In three plays, Caroline advanced to the 1-yard line, and then Leacock scored on a keeper to pull his team within 32-30 with 5:35 left.
Regaining possession after forcing King William to punt, Leacock threw an interception on first down.
Again, the Cavaliers would not give up. The defense stopped King William after four plays, and Caroline took over on its 23-yard line with 55 seconds to play. With kicker Ricky Williams on the sidelines, the offense began moving the ball up field, attempting to at least get him within field goal range. The Cavaliers ran out of time.
With its offense on the sidelines at one point in the final quarter, the Cavaliers began chanting, “Defense! Defense!” Their chant stirred the Caroline fans to their feet, and they joined in urging on the defenders.
After only three games, it is fair to say that Caroline’s level of play far exceeds what fans have had to endure in recent years. The spread offense implemented by Ross has proven effective. Leacock has been a bright spot on offense and has improved each week, and he has some especially speedy targets in Pollard and Morris.
Leacock was 12 of 23 passing for 304 yards and two interceptions. Besides rushing for a score, he threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bevontae Morris. Chad Boxley and Keonta Hamilton scored rushing touchdowns for Caroline. Morris led the team with four catches for 147 yards, and DaQuan Pollard made three catches for 72 yards. Hamilton paced the ground game, rushing six times for 83 yards as the Cavaliers gained 82 yards in 20 attempts.
McPhearson led a King William rushing attack that gained 304 yards on 56 carries. He rushed 26 times for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Caroline, now 1-2 overall after three nondistrict games, held a 23-16 lead to start the second half. After exchanging punts, King William took over on its 18-yard line, and McPhearson engineered a 10-play, 82-yard drive that he capped with a 10-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 23-23.
Caroline took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Williams booted a 27-yard field goal to get his team on the scoreboard. McPhearson fumbled on his team’s next possession, and Caroline recovered on the KW 32-yard line. They advanced in six plays, and then Boxley scored on a 1-yard carry.
Caroline extended its lead to 17-0 in the second quarter. After King William punted into the end zone, Hamilton exploded through the line and raced 80 yards for a touchdown with 10:56 to play in the half.
Freeman scored on a 1-yard carry, and Camarjae Peatross scored on a 2-yard carry, and 2-point conversions after each score pulled King William within 17-16.
Caroline’s last score of the half came after McPhearson fumbled and turned the ball over to Caroline on the 23-yard line. Faced with a third down and 16, Leacock passed to Morris for a touchdown to lift Caroline to a 23-16 advantage with 1:37 left in the half.
This week the Cavaliers visit Spotsylvania Friday night for their first Battlefield District contest.