As if the odds weren’t stacked enough against the Carol City going up against the preseason second-ranked team nationally and three-time defending Class 6A state champion it hadn’t beaten in 11 years, they really took a hit when star quarterback Steven “Buckshot” Calvert went down after the first series.
With a freshman backup quarterback inserted into the game, the Chiefs got the one offensive play they needed from another freshman at running back, and their defense made the impact it needed to make to pull off a stunning 8-7 upset victory against Miami Central on Saturday night at Traz Powell Stadium.
It’s the first victory for Carol City (5-1, 2-0 District 16-6A) over Central (4-2, 1-1) since 2004 and Central’s first district loss since a 2009 defeat at the hands of Miami Northwestern.
“We waned to leave it on the field, and we were able to do that,” Carol City coach Aubrey Hill said. “It didn’t always go our way — our quarterback was knocked out. Defense played great, special teams played well. We found a way on offense to get us the one touchdown.”
With its offense muzzled the first three quarters, Carol City broke through with one big run from freshman back Nayquan Wright. Wright took a carry 80 yards to the end zone early in the fourth quarter to give the Chiefs the decisive lead.
“I talked to my O-line, I told them to show me something,” said Wright, who finished with 120 yards on nine carries. “They showed me it, and I went house calling.
“My mind was numb. I hardly knew what I was thinking. I was just trying to get there.”
The Rockets, who also had their starting quarterback Jerrod Thomas make a first-half exit, marched into the red zone on their final drive, but almost lost it all when a poor snap went over the quarterback’s head — the third time it happened for Central on the night.
Central was able to recover, but shortly thereafter did lose its chance. Backup quarterback Tijuane Morten hit Jamel Cook, who had two interceptions at safety but was lined up at receiver. Cook was immediately hit by Brian Lainer and fumbled. Terry Straughter recovered it for the Chiefs with 1:25 remaining.
It still wasn’t entirely over. Carol City could not run out the clock, and had to punt from its own end zone with 3.8 seconds left. The Chiefs got a low punt off, and Central’s Jamal Hudson fielded it off a bounce, and had a shot at returning it down the right sideline but was tackled about 10 yards short to seal it.
Central players were overheard telling Carol City players, “Enjoy it while you can” during postgame handshakes. The two could end up seeing each other in regional semifinals or even a three-team tiebreaker if Carol City falters later in its district schedule.
While the two offenses were playing to a stalemate in the first half, it was the Central defense that first reached the end zone.
Cook intercepted Lorenzo Floyd, the Carol City quarterback inserted for the injured Calvert, on a pass to the middle of the field and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Rockets a 7-2 lead into halftime.
Before that, Carol City scored on a safety when Central was pinned back on the previous drive and a third-down snap went over quarterback Jerrod Thomas’ head and touched the back end line.
Morten finished with 190 passing yards for a Central offense that also had star receiver Darnell Salomon go down in the second half.
Freshman Central kicker Jordan Nadelman missed two field goals, including one right before Wright’s long touchdown run.
CEN- Cook 88 INT return (Nadelman kick)
CC- Wright 80 run (run failed)
Rushing (att-yds) -- CEN: Thomas 2-(-4), Roberts 1-2, Smith 1-4, Mike 2-5, Cook 5-20. CC: Davis 3-(-2), Calvert 1-0, Floyd 11-9, Rolle 9-34, Wright 9-120.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- CEN: Thomas 0-2-0, 0, Morten 13-17-0, 190. CC: Calvert 1-2-0, 5, Floyd 5-13-2, 96.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- CEN: Phillips 1-5, Brinson 1-9, Salomon 3-17, Cook 2-23, Perriman 3-31, Carter 2-45, Bland 1-60. CC: Thomas 1-5, Dingle 1-27, Tucker 3-31, Smith 1-38.