The Caroline Cavalier varsity football team extended its season on Nov. 8 with a 54-19 romp over host Spotsylvania High School to give them a playoff berth for the first time in a number of years.
The playoff game will be at 7 p.m. on Friday at Darling Stadium in Hampton.
Caroline dominated from the very beginning of the game as they received the opening kick off on their own 37-yard line, followed by a 63-yard pass play from quarterback Rasharrd Harris to Keshawn Johnson for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
After a lopsided first half in which the Cavaliers outscored the Knights 48-6, the Cavaliers set aside their signature passing game to show off the talents of senior running back Brando Garcia as they mostly utilized their ground game. With the passing game used sparingly, the Cavaliers scored only once in the second half on a 23-yard scamper by Brandon Braxton around the left end for a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter.
The initial pass play to Johnson just 14 seconds into the game and the PAT by Garcia gave Caroline a 7-0 score. Caroline capitalized off of a number of Spotsylvania mistakes, turning them into scoring opportunities. A 15-yard touchdown pass to Will Howard with 7:49 left in the quarter, with Garcia’s PAT extended the lead to 14-0. Caroline recovered a Spotsylvania fumble with 3:08 remaining, and seven seconds later, Harris completed a second touchdown pass to Johnson for 15 yards. Again, Garcia’s PAT was on mark and the score at the end of the first quarter was 21-0, Caroline.
In the second quarter, with just 28 ticks off the clock, Howard picked off a Spotsylvania pass on the Caroline 15 and returned it 85 yards for a score. Garcia’s PAT was unsuccessful and the score was 27-0. Johnson scored for the third time of the night with a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 8:50 left in the half, to put the game farther out of reach for the Knights. Garcia’s PAT split the uprights and Caroline led 34-6. With just over four minutes left in the half, it was time for Chad Boxley to make his presence known, scoring on a two-yard dive at the 4:06 point in the half and then again with only 49.2 seconds remaining before intermission. Garcia was successful both times with a PAT and the score at half time was 48-6.
Spotsylvania showed some spark in the third quarter but was not able to sustain it for very long as the Caroline defense shut them down all night. The Knights’ final score of the evening came on a 49-yard pass from Jeremy Recabo to TJ Heflin with just 1:26 remaining in the third quarter. The PAT by M. Turner was good and Spotsylvania came as close as they would in the contest with the score 48-19 in favor of Caroline. With 7:05 remaining on the clock in the third period, James Anderson broke loose for a 63-yard dash into the end zone. The attempted 2-point conversion failed and the score was 48-12. Spotsylvania scored with 9:05 remaining in the half on a two-yard plunge by Recabo. With the failed PAT by Turner, the score was 27-6.
After the game Caroline quarterback Rasharrd Harris commented on the second half strategy: ”We wanted to keep the ball on the ground and see what our running game could do.”
The running of Brando Garcia showed that there are more weapons in the Caroline arsenal than have been previously used. Built much like Chad Boxley, Garcia proved to have a similar style: fast and hard.
Coach Jeremiah Ross was very pleased with the effort given by the Cavaliers stating. ”They played hard, and were very competitive,” he said. “This game was very different from our final game last year when we just quit after halftime. We prepared in the usual 1-0 mindset we have each week.”
In a previous column, it was reported that the Cavaliers’ loss to King George High School had stopped their playoff chances. After the story went to print, it was found out that Caroline was still in the running for a playoff spot. Losses by Smithfield High School and J.R. Tucker High School last Friday, combined with the Cavaliers’ win, gave Caroline the leverage they needed to earn the number sixteen spot in the South Division of the 4A Conference. The Cavaliers will most likely face perennial powerhouse, Phoebus High School.
TEAM STATISTICS CA SP
First Downs 16 14
Rushing Yardage 26-176 39-184
Passing Yardage 317 138
Passes 12-21-0 6-19-2
Punts-Avg. 3-31.3 5-4
Penalties-Yards 8-70 4-47
Rushing: Spotsylvania–James Anderson 8-92, TD; Blair Lawson 8-70; Michael Shelton 14-37; Charlie Petitt 3-9; TJ Heflin 2-(-8); Jeremy Recabo 4-(-16) TD. Caroline–Chad Boxley 10-61 2TD; Brandon Garcia 8-68; Brandon Braxton 3-27 TD; Rasharrd Harris 2-18; Keyshawn Johnson 1-(-2); Robert Gerber 1-(-1); Reggie Twisdale 1-5.
Passing: Spotsylvania–Jeremy Recabo 6-19-2 138, TD. Caroline–Rasharrd Harris 12-21-0 317, 3 TD.
Receiving: Spotsylvania–TJ Heflin 2-68, TD; James Anderson 2-41; Blair Lawson 1-20; Jon Hall 1-9. Caroline–Keyshawn Johnson 3-183, 2 TD; Will Howard 4-87, TD; William Rollins 1-34; Jonathan Brown 1-13.