Published: Sep 15, 2012 09:45 AM
Modified: Sep 17, 2012 02:54 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - A bruised calf kept Chapel Hill High starting quarterback T.J. Johnson on the sideline Friday night. Unfortunately for opposing Cedar Ridge, starting running back Darius Allen was still on the field.
In a game marred by penalties, timeouts and ugly mistakes for both teams, Allen dominated, scoring all three of the Tigers’ touchdowns in an 18-6 win.
“I felt this week I wanted to rest (Johnson), and he’s still questionable for next week,” said Chapel Hill coach Isaac Marsh. “That didn’t change our plan this week, not having T.J. We still had the same plan.”
That plan was hardly executed from the onset for Chapel Hill, though, which scored on its first two drives, but failed PAT attempts on both and then gave up a 50-yard interception return that put Cedar Ridge just outside the red zone, trailing 12-0. Well into the third quarter, the Tigers were still struggling to put away the 0-4 Red Wolves.
“It was a hard-fought contest. We had turnovers and opportunities we didn’t capitalize on and didn’t put away earlier, but that’s the game,” said Marsh. “If you don’t finish drives teams take advantage, and that was the case a couple times tonight.”
Those words might as well have come from the mouth of Cedar Ridge coach Chris Casey, who saw his team find it even harder to avoid mistakes. The Red Wolves had drives of 50 and 70 yards end as turnovers on downs, and lost acres of yardage if not possession altogether on three separate special teams errors. Chapel Hill’s second touchdown drive of the night was also kept alive by a critical pass interference penalty on a third down.
“They did a great job capitalizing on our mistakes,” said Casey. “Every time we made a big mistake, they were able to put it in the end zone.”
Late into the third quarter, with Chapel Hill still struggling to pull away and following a three-and-out, the Tigers pinned Cedar Ridge back on its own 10-yard line. Eating up clock with a methodical drive that weighed heavily on the shoulders of running back Javon Grady, Cedar Ridge drove all the way to Chapel Hill’s 23. But after three short runs and an incomplete pass from quarterback Josh Keihle, Chapel Hill had the ball once again.
On the second play of the drive, Allen burst through the line of scrimmage and appeared to have won a footrace down the left sideline if not for Christian Chapman, the defensive back on the far side of the field, tripping him up at the 10-yard line. But Chapman’s heroics weren’t enough. Four plays later, Allen was in the end zone for his third score of the night.
“(Allen) is a guy I enjoy watching play,” said Marsh. “Football is a reprieve for him... it’s enjoyable to see him reap the benefits of his hard work out here. We controlled the clock, moved the ball up and down the field-- that’s what he gives us.”
For Casey, whose roster was already thin at certain positions going into the week, a couple injuries late in the game were too much to overcome – most notably the loss of Keihle to a neck injury. He was replaced for the final minutes of the game by wide receiver Robert Moore.
“We were moving the ball well in the first half but then we got some injuries,” said Casey. “Chapel Hill wore us down-- we had some injuries already, and they played a really physical game.”
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