MILFORD – The Caroline High School football team was jubilant after exploding in the final 12 minutes to defeat Eastern View.
With the 37-21 win over the Cyclones on Friday night last week, the Cavaliers improved to 2-0 in the Battlefield District and 3-2 overall. They already have more overall wins than in each of the previous two seasons under former coach Gene Boley. The loss dropped Eastern View to 0-2 in the district and 2-3 overall.
There was a lot of laughter and slaps on the back among the Caroline players as they celebrated their homecoming win.
Senior quarterback Curtis Leacock had his most accurate passing game so far this season and never looked more comfortable leading the team than he did against the Cyclones. He was giddy with joy after the game, in which he was 16 of 37 passing for 237 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, it was the defense that Leacock praised.
“The defense came in and did what they had to do when we needed them,” said Leacock. The defensive effort was led by Joe Shiftlett, who had four tackles and nine assists, and Corey Wright, three tackles and 11 assists.
Leacock combined with Mark Rollins and DaQuan Pollard for a pair of touchdown passes. Chad Boxley added a couple of short yardage touchdown carries, and Keyshawn Johnson scored a rushing touchdown for Caroline. Jaquen Monroe led Caroline’s corps of receivers with 86 yards on four catches.
The Cavaliers were hanging onto a 23-21 lead when they erupted for two more touchdowns in the final quarter. Boxley scored on a 2-yard carry with just over 10 minutes left, and Johnson burst into the end zone on a 5-yard carry with less than 2 minutes to play.
At the same time, the Caroline defense shut down the Cyclones – Brandon Settle in particular – in the final quarter. Settle, a senior quarterback, threw one touchdown and rushed 16 times for 98 yards and another score for the night.
In addition to catching three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, Pollard got the Cavaliers off to a fast start in the second half when he returned a kickoff to the Easter View 34-yard line. That set the stage for a drive that culminated with Boxley scoring on a 1-yard carry to give the Cavaliers a 23-8 advantage.
The Cyclones fought back, however, for a pair of touchdowns in the same quarter to cut the gap. Settle intercepted a Leacock pass to give Eastern View possession on the Caroline 45-yard line. After rushing gains by Settle and Donte Christian, Settle threw a 7-yard TD pass to J. Gardiner. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cyclones recovered a fumble on the Caroline 35-yard line, and five plays later Settle ran 16 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Cyclones to within 23-21.
Caroline scored 16 unanswered points in the first quarter to get out front. Recovering a Cyclone fumble, the Cavaliers marched 72 yards in 14 plays and scored on a 3-yard pass from Leacock to Rollins. Following a bad punt from Eastern View to their own 35-yard line, Leacock connected with Pollard on the first play to give Caroline a 16-0 advantage.
Eastern View’s only score in the first half came when Kendrick Kube rushed 3 yards for a TD with 4:13 remaining to cut Caroline’s lead to 16-8.
This week the Cavaliers visit district powerhouse James Monroe Friday night; kickoff is 7:30 p.m. The Yellow Jackets remain undefeated (2-0, 5-0) after defeating King George 21-13 last week despite several key JM players being out with injuries.
When asked how the Cavaliers would prepare for this week’s game, coach Jeremiah Ross said, “Just like any other game. Coach (Rich) Serbay and JM are good, but we are going to go into this game like we are 1-0 and work towards matching up with them.”