Unfortunately for Soddy-Daisy Friday night, the Trojans were exactly who the Cleveland High School Blue Raiders thought they were. Which is to say, a team on the slide and searching for a silver lining to hang this season’s hat on.
For the fifth time this season the beleaguered Trojans suffered through a second half mercy rule clock as the Raiders ran away with their third District 5-AAA win by a score of 48-14.
Cleveland was electric right out of the gate. Senior running back C.J. Bryant wasted no time when he returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a lightning-quick score to put CHS up 6-0 with only 15 seconds coming off the clock.
During their next offensive possession Bryant took the handoff from the very first snap and added another 56 yards and a score to his already impressive stats, giving the Raiders a 13-0 lead before Soddy-Daisy could even find out what hit it.
That trend continued throughout the first half. Cleveland gained possession of the ball. Cleveland put points on the board.
In the second drive it was senior David Morgan who charged it over the line to paydirt from five yards out.
Bryant added yet another score on a 54-yard spring to end the first quarter.
On Cleveland’s fourth possession, quarter back Austin Herink found sophomore Rod Dennard for a 32-yard scoring strike.
Herink followed that up with a 15 yard scoring pitch-and-catch to D.J. Jones, and it was only fitting that Bryant bookended the half on the next possession when he added yet another score to account for 24 of Cleveland’s 48 first-half (and total) points.
“We had a tough loss last week. We came out and really practiced hard, trying to win the game Monday through Thursday. Our defense executed. Our offense executed. The line blocked really well tonight. We worked as a team tonight. We never underestimate any team. We didn’t take them lightly. We just came out here and played football,” Bryant stated.
The Trojans were able to put one scoring drive together in the first half to at least avoid their third shutout of the season. At the half the score was a lopsided 48-6.
Second half play allowed Cleveland the opportunity to give some of their younger players quality minutes against a district opponent.
“It’s always great when we can get some of the younger guys out on the field. We’ve had some struggles with our junior varsity and freshmen schedule this year. I’m proud of those guys that hung in there with us. I think we went three deep at every position tonight and that was great for those guys,” said a pleased Cleveland head coach Ron Crawford after the game.
With 5:44 left to go, Soddy-Daisy found the end zone one last time to end the running clock and bring the tally to the eventual final of 48-14.
“We executed very well tonight. It’s good to come out and play your game and get points on the board. We get to get out of here with our fifth win this season and move to 3-1 in the district. It sets us up for a great opportunity through these last couple weeks,” Crawford explained.
Next week allows Cleveland’s new head coach to finally sample what all the Bradley County football rivalry hype is about as his Raiders travel to Bear country to face off against Bradley Central.
“I’m excited to see what this rivalry is all about. Everybody says it’s one of the best rivalries in the state. I want it to be a good, clean, hard-fought game on both sides. That’s what I’m hoping for,” Crawford said.
Cleveland 27 21 0 0 — 48
Soddy-Daisy 0 6 0 8 — 14
CHS — C.J. Bryant 95-yd. kickoff return (kick failed), 11:45
CHS — Bryant 56-yd. run (Jesse Jones kick); 9:26
CHS — David Morgan 6-yd. run (Jones kick); 5:43
CHS — Bryant 54-yd. run (Jones kick), 0:00
CHS — Rod Dennard 32-yd. pass from Austin Herink (Jones kick), 11:37
SD — C.J. Brown 34-yd. pass from Brett Standifer (kick failed), 8:36
CHS — D.J. Jones 15-yd. pass from Herink (Jones kick), 5:04
CHS — Bryant 1-yd. run (Jones kick), 0:17
SD — Brown 18-yd. pass from Standifer (Caleb Jordan run), 5:44
Team stats CHS SD
First downs 15 11
Rushes-yards 16-192 30-77
Passing yards 302 142
Total yards 494 219
Comp-Att-Int 24-32-2 9-20-0
Punts -Ave. 1-30 6-34.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties 9-60 4-55
Rushing: Bryant 8-150 3 TD, Morgan 2-9 TD, Raekwon Bunion 3-27, Vick Harrison 1-8 (CHS); Standifer 15-49 (SD).
Passing: Herink 16-18-1 247 2 TD, Austin Massey 6-12-1 38, Jacob Gibson 2-2-0 17 (CHS); Standifer 9-20-0 142 (SD).
Receiving: Jones 7-80 TD, Dennard 3-52 TD, Tyler Davis 1-4, Reed Allison 1-12, Reeves Morgan 2-34, Parker Smith 2-52, Bryant 1-25, Jackson Earle 2-16, Eric Goodwin 1-3, T.J. Parker 1-2, Eli Isenhower 1-5, Parker Carson 2-17 (CHS); Brown 5-115 (SD).
Records: Cleveland 5-3, 3-1 District 5-AAA; Soddy-Daisy 2-6, 1-4 District 5-AAA.