On a field littered with FBS recruits, two defending state champions squared off at Traz Powell Stadium on Friday night.
And when the dust cleared, it was defending 6A champion Carol City which looked awfully impressive as the Chiefs jumped out to a 23-0 halftime lead and turned in a shockingly easy 44-0 running clock thrashing of defending 8A champ Southridge in a non-district matchup.
With a huge district showdown on the horizon against district rivals Northwestern Thursday on national TV (ESPNU at 8 p.m.) and Central on Oct. 27, the timing could not be better for the Chiefs (4-1) who appear to be clicking on all cylinders.
“Just an outstanding effort tonight in all phases of the game,” said Carol City head coach Benedict Hypollite. “To come out here just four days after our last game (Carol City shutout out Norland 21-0 on Monday) shows just how mentally and physically tough these boys are.”
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Carol City made about as an early a statement as you can when Gregory Grate took the opening kickoff and bolted 90 yards for a score.
On their fourth offensive play from scrimmage, the Chiefs stunned the Spartans (3-2) when Marlon Smith dropped back and found a streaking Treyunn Lane wide open down the middle for a 67-yard score and it was 14-0 just six minutes into the game.
But if what turned out to be a running clock game actually game had a turning point, it came three minutes before halftime. After Southridge’s Christopher McDonald picked off Smith and returned it 57 yards to the Carol City 3, the Chiefs defense came up huge.
Two negative yardage plays and two penalties later, Southridge had a fourth-and-goal at the 14. That’s when quarterback Andre Foster lofted a high pass to the corner of the end that Jarvis Brownlee picked off.
Rather than take a knee, Brownlee took off from eight yards deep in the end zone and, 108 yards later, he was in the Southridge end zone. Instead of 14-7, it was 20-0 and, for all intents and purposes, the Spartans were done.
“I never even thought about taking a knee,” said Brownlee. “Whenever I get my hands on a pick, I’m always looking to run somewhere with it no matter where I am. As soon as I got out of the end zone, I saw all green and knew I could take it to the house.”
Brownlee was only one of numerous outstanding defensive stars for the Chiefs on the night as Carol City recorded its fourth consecutive shutout (third in nine days) and has only given up six points all season, a 6-2 opening week loss to Deerfield Beach.
One of those standouts was junior defensive end Malcolm Ray who led the way with eight tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
“I’m not surprised at all by the final score tonight,” said Ray who already has offers from UAB, Wake Forest and Florida State but is hoping a call from Coral Gables and the Canes might be in his future. “We know what this team is capable of doing when we come out and play our game and we did that tonight. Now we’re going to get ready for the West (Northwestern) next week.”