Triton spoils Simon’s Cavalier debut
Southern Lee’s home debut with new head coach Don Simon was outstanding Friday night, at least for the first half.
The Cavaliers played a tough game throughout against visiting Triton (4-0) but the Hawks used 362 rushing yards and five Cavalier turnovers to extend its regular-season winning streak to 22 games. The Hawks needed the second half to do so though, winning the second half 18-0 for a 37-21 win over the Cavaliers (1-3).
All three Cavalier touchdowns were sudden strikes from quarterback Emond Caldwell to wide receiver Aaron Blockmon. The duo connected for touchdown passes, a 44-yard play on a wide screen, then a 65-yard pass as Caldwell hit Blockmon in stride on a post route, only 1:36 apart late in the first quarter, taking a 13-0 Triton lead to a 14-13 Cavalier lead in literally a couple of sprints.
The Hawks got on the board with their first two times with the ball. Triton escaped a 3rd-and-10 on its first set of downs with Jeremy Leggett passing to Matthew Webb for a 15-yard gain. The opening drive finished with Juwan Thompson’s 12-yard touchdown run.
After an interception cut the first Cavalier possession to two plays, and set up the Hawks on the Cavalier 28, Thompson took a sweep around the left side and down the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown run.
In much quicker fashion, the Cavaliers got on the board with Blockmon’s first big play, then forced a three-and-out and a Hawk punt, then needed only four plays before Blockmon took a catch to the house again.
The points fired up the Cavalier defense and for stretches of the first half, the Cavalier pass rush was enough to stall the Hawks.
Late in the second quarter, Triton took possession near midfield after a Cavalier punt. Another Thompson sweep went for a big gain to the Cavalier 10 and a couple of snaps later Brandon Richardson carried into the end zone from seven yards out putting the Hawks ahead 19-14.
The Cavaliers answered with Caldwell to Blockmon again. This time, on the second Cavalier play after the Hawk score, Caldwell fired quickly to Blockmon on a slant and Blockmon raced through the Hawk secondary and was gone for a 78-yard touchdown.
The Cavaliers hung on to the 21-19 lead, with the Hawks missing a 37-yard field goal with 0:09 left in the half, at halftime.
The Hawks kept their winning streak going thanks to tightening up on defense and turning exclusively to their rushing attack.
Southern Lee received the second-half kick but the possession was cut short on a 3rd-and-long as Hawk linebacker Brad Miller got a sack, fumble and the fumble recovery on the Cavalier 20-yard line. The Hawks capitalized on the turnover with Devonte Stewart’s 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion for a 27-21 lead.
With the lead, grinding, clock-churning drives became the Hawk game. After stopping the Cavs again, the Hawks marched 86 yards, all on the ground as Triton did not attempt a pass in the second half. Richardson, Deangelo Harris, Thompson, Todd Penny and Zach Wade rushed on the drive ending with a 32-yard run by Harris for a touchdown with 2:56 left in the third period.
Southern Lee’s best shot for points in the second half came thanks to cornerback Chris McLean scooping up a backward lateral thrown by Leggett, and returning the fumble 25 yards to the Triton 21 late in the third period. The Hawks held the Cavaliers on downs from there, then moved down the field on a drive of nearly eight minutes ending in Ricardo Hernandez making a 34-yard field goal.
Caldwell’s fourth interception of the game, the third of the second half, ended the last Cavalier possession of the night with 3:06 remaining.
Caldwell finished 11-for-25 for 245 yards passing. Blockmon caught seven passes for 224 yards and the three touchdowns. Triton held the Cavaliers to -13 rushing yards.
Thompson led the Hawk offense with 13 carries for 161 yards and the two touchdowns in the opening quarter. Harris rushed 11 times for 100 yards and a touchdown.
On the Cavalier defense, Justin McKinnon and Quintin Locklear had two sacks each as the Cavs had six total. Triton held a 26-7 advantage in first downs.
Southern Lee gets its second home game of the season next Friday, hosting Pinecrest at 7:30 p.m. Triton will host Gray’s Creek at 7:30 p.m. Friday.