Without starting quarterback Trayone Gray, the UM oral commitment who was held out with a groin injury, Carol City had just enough to edge host Southridge in a non-district defensive struggle.
Carol City surrendered a touchdown on Southridge’s first drive, but shut down the Spartans from that point on.
Running back Dedarius Bridges’ 15-yard touchdown dive to the pylon with 9:55 to play gave the Chiefs (3-2, 1-0 District 16-6A) the win Friday night.
“Either he’s playing video games or he’s watching on TV,” said first-year Carol City coach Aubrey Hill, former wide receivers coach at UF and UM. “But he did a really good job carrying the ball.”
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Bridges finished with 29 yards on eight carries. With Gray out, junior quarterback Edward Loveland stepped in and carried 13 times for 51 yards while completing 10 passes to seven different receivers for 79 yards and two interceptions.
Carol City’s cornerback combo came up with two picks of their own – Rashard Fenton had one down the Southridge sideline in the first half and Matthew Whyte finished the Spartans (1-3, 0-0 District 16-8A) off with another where he wrestled the ball away from a Southridge receiver with six seconds left.
“We’ve got two really good shutdown corners,” Hill says. “I’d really put our two corners against anybody, and that’s a huge play by Matthew Whyte to seal the victory.”
Southridge’s early touchdown came on a Drakar Jerry 12-yard pass to 6-4 sophomore receiver Freddie Pinder. Running back Lashone Garnett had 104 of his 112 rushing yards in the first half.
The Spartans had their one extra-point attempt in the first quarter blocked. The one point made the difference Friday.
With a bye week ahead of the Chiefs, Hill expects Gray to return for the Oct. 10 game against North Miami Beach, which prefaces three straight district games that will make or break their season after starting 1-0 in District 16-6A with last week’s win over Northwestern.