Work pays off as Chapel Hill rips South Granville
BY DAN E. WAY
Special to The Herald-Sun
CHAPEL HILL — It was almost as if Chapel Hill defensive backs coach Cornell Lamb knew. During pre-game practice he had his crew working a fumble drill, and the preparation came in exceedingly handy for cornerback Austin Turner.
The senior first-year defensive starter broke the game wide open with a 43-yard touchdown return to help the Tigers upend a scrappy South Granville team that was giving them fits throughout the first half.
The 24-6 win puts Big Eight 3-A Conference member Chapel Hill at 2-0. the Northern Carolina 2-A Conference Vikings fall to 0-2.
“Coach Lamb has done an excellent job,” said Tigers head coach Issac Marsh. “Before the game he was actually working that particular drill right there. Fumble recovery, bend at the knees, scoop and go.”
Turner was still juiced after the game with the 2-0 start and the first defensive touchdown of his career. It happened fast, with South Granville trailing 10-6 and pounding, pounding, pounding like an industrial piston at Chapel Hill’s line with twin running threats Sean Bowman and Earl Green.
With just over two minutes remaining in the half, Bowman charged into the line on 3rd and 5 looking for the third first down of the drive.
Bowman, meet defensive lineman Noah Layden.
“Noah Layden stripped him, and then I saw the ball pop right in front of me. I just picked it up and took off,” Turner said.
“I was thinking, ‘Should I land on it or pick it up and run?’ I decided to pick it up and run. I saw just green in front of me,” he said.
“We just feel unstoppable right now, but we’re not going to let it go to our heads. We know we’ve got to get back to work on Monday,” Turner said.
Junior quarterback Connor Stough, a transfer from East Chapel Hill, where he started the past two years, accounted for most of the Tigers yardage. He was 13-21 with 165 yards. That included a 6-yard scoring strike to fullback Brandon Wendel on a crossing pattern in the middle of the field to give the Tigers the 10-6 lead with 6:11 to play in the second quarter.
“We definitely have to tighten up. We haven’t reached our full potential yet,” Stough said.
“I feel like I could have done better for the team. The line blocked, and the receivers made some outstanding catches for me,” Stough said. “The defense played outstanding today with only six points allowed. It’s a team effort, nothing really about me.”
Stough said he has transitioned well with the change of place.
“The school welcomed me. It feels like another home. Not anything against East. I loved East,” he said. “It’s just fun here, too, and a great time playing with a new family.”
Chapel Hill jumped out to a 3-0 lead with 9:05 left in the first quarter when senior Connor Albrecht booted a 30-yard field goal. They also scored last, on an 8-yard burst up the middle by running back Ricki McDowell with 7:19 showing on the third-quarter clock.
South Granville got its only score at 7:41 of the second quarter, on a 1-yard plunge up the gut by Green. Grayson Parrish missed the extra point.
Marsh said he’s glad to be 2-0 instead of the 0-2 start the Tigers experienced last year, but believes his running game needs to be more “efficient” to “shorten the game out.”
And while Turner made a textbook fumble recovery and scored to help shift the momentum of the game, there were major miscues, Marsh said. One was a block in the back penalty that scrubbed what would have been a 45-yard fumble recovery and touchdown for Layden within the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter.
“With a guy 15, 20 yards in front of you, you’ve got to understand you cannot make those plays. Let it go,” Marsh said.
Bowman got 84 yards on the ground, and Green rushed for 77, but Marsh said despite their talent they should not have had those numbers.
“I truly believe they had our number in the first half. It was an excellent game plan to keep our offense off the field as much as possible. By running the ball they took away a lot of time on the clock,” Marsh said.
But at halftime the Tigers figured out the linebackers were not getting the formation call up front, and were misaligning. So they made second-half adjustments that helped contain the Viking twin terrors to short gains.
Marsh said the Tigers will need to do better next week in the backyard brawl against Carrboro.
“As explosive as Trai Sharp is, we cannot afford to give up that much ground because if he sees a seam it could be one and done. He’s scoring. He’s an excellent runner,” Marsh said.
“We’re not looking past anyone,” he said. “They have beaten us the past two years…It’s definitely one where we’re going to come ready to play.”
CHAPEL HILL 24, S. GRANVILLE 6
S. Granville |0 |6 |0 |0 — 6
Chapel Hill |3 |14 |7 |0 — 24
CH — Connor Albrecht 30 FG, 9:05
SG — Earl Green 1 run (Grayson Parrish kick fails), 7:41
CH — Brandon Wendel 6 pass from Connor Stough (Albrecht kick), 6:11
CH — Austin Turner 43 fumble return (Albrecht kick), 2:11
CH — Ricki McDowell 8 run (Albrecht kick), 6:11
RUSHING — South Granville, Sean Bowman 17-84, Earl Green 23-77, Mitchell Blackley 8-10. Chapel Hill, Ricki McDowell 12-39, Lonnie Baldwin 3-10, Connor Stough 5-10.
PASSING — South Granville, Mitchell Blackley 1-2 3, Ben Jackson 0-2. Chapel Hill, Connor Stough 13-21 165, Jacob Guskiewicz 2-3 16.
RECEIVING — South Granville, Sean Bowman 1-3. Chapel Hill, Albert Nyamayaro 5-73, Arkavius Parks, 2-42, Brandon Wendel 4-29, Austin Turner 2-26, Andrew Gillespie 2-11.
MISSED FG — CH, Albrecht 38
Records — South Granville 0-2, Chapel Hill 2-0.