It has been a rough start to the 2018 football season for the Cleveland Central Wolves, but Friday night the pack hoped they made a step in turning things around with a 28-22 win over the Callaway Chargers here at Mickey Sellers Stadium.
The win was the team’s first on the season, but more importantly, it gave the Wolfpack a win in Region 2-5A. CCHS is now 2-4 on the year with a 1-0 mark in the region. Callaway fell to 3-2 with an 0-1 record in region action.
Cleveland Central head coach Ricky Smither expressed his pride in the team following the win.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” Smither said. “It has been a tough year, and these guys have come out and fought every week. I’m not taking anything away from Callaway, but I think our kids played well and made it a great night for the Wolfpack.”
The Wolves held a 28-22 lead with 3:20 remaining in the game when Jakhyris Williams forced a fumble on Callaway’s Lakenith Thompson and Cleveland’s Caziah Strong recovered it.
Cleveland’s offense could not close out the game, and the ball was punted back to Callaway with 2:40 remaining.
The defense was back on the field and once again made the right plays as Williams came up clutch and intercepted a pass from Callaway’s Wesley Corbitt and returned it for a touchdown, but the score did not stand due to a penalty that was called on Cleveland Central during the return.
This time the Wolves’ offense was able to run out the clock and close out the game.
“Not the way you want to end the game,” Smither said. “Anytime the offense has the ball with under six minutes to play you want to be able to control the game and the clock and finish a team. We just didn’t do it. We had some young mistakes; we have a young center who had some jumps and flinches that we have to work on, but each week we will get better.”
Callaway finished with 337 total yards of offense (130 passing/207 rushing) while Cleveland compiled 246 yards (188 rushing/ 58 passing).
Despite being outgained on the ground and in the air, the Wolves were able to start fast which made the difference in the ball game.
The Wolves jumped out to an early lead off a four-yard scoring run from Rodarrius Douglas. Andres Becerril-Nieves added the point after for a 7-0 lead.
The lead increased with 1:11 remaining in the first quarter when Malik Pates scampered on a 12-yard TD run. Becerril-Nieves added the point after for a 14-0 lead.
Callaway got on the board in the second quarter off a short run from Thompson with 7:06 on the clock. The point after failed for a 14-6 ball game, which would be the score at halftime.
The third quarter began rough for the Chargers as Cleveland’s defense forced Callaway to punt. On the punt attempt, the punter mishandled the snap, and Cleveland’s Tyler Smith tackled him to give the Wolves the ball at the Chargers’ 23-yard line.
Three plays later, the Wolves were able to punch the ball in off a one-yard run from Pates with 7:25 left in the third. The point after was good for a 21-6 lead.
Callaway answered on the following drive when Corbitt connected with a receiver for a 29-yard touchdown. Corbitt hit Liqouri Young for the two-point conversion to cut the Wolves’ lead to 21-14.
Later in the third quarter, CCHS answered back as Douglas broke free on a 39-yard TD run with 2:57 on the clock. The kick after was good and Cleveland Central increased its lead to 14 points at 28-14.
Callaway didn’t give up as the Chargers scored a touchdown in the fourth and added the two-point conversion with 10:35 on the clock to cut Cleveland Central’s lead to six points at 28-22. The Wolves were able to fight off the Chargers the rest of the way to secure the win.
Douglas led the Cleveland Central’s offense with 83 rushing yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns, followed by Pates with 47 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns. Latravious Miller completed 6-of-7 passes for 58 yards to lead the Wolves’ passing attack, while Tamaryea Slaughter was the Wolves’ leading receiver with three catches for 42 yards.
For CCHS on defense, Strong tallied 11 tackles with a fumble recovery, Brandon King finished with four tackles including three sacks, and Williams had six tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.
CCHS will be back on the road Friday when the team travels to Ridgeland for another Region 2-5A contest.