When an up man on the kick return team is dancing to the strains of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” in the fourth quarter, it’s a sure sign of a good night.
The Anderson County Mavericks had a good night Saturday evening as they blew out visiting Carter 49-7.
The Mavericks dominated the Hornets in every facet of the game from the opening kick forward.
Anderson County took the first possession and had a promising drive going but a turnover near midfield gave Carter the ball in Anderson County territory.
The Hornets were courteous guests and returned the favor with a fumble of their own and Marquise Gallahar returned it 38 yards to set up the Mavericks at the Carter 17-yard line. One play later, quarterback Stanton Martin fired a touchdown pass to Michael Carroll.
The extra point attempt failed but Anderson County led 6-0 with 10:07 remaining in the first quarter.
The Mavericks defense then held again and forced a punt.
After a 17-yard run by Ryan Moog, Carroll scored on a 16-yard pass from Martin.
Steve Wagner kicked the PAT and the Mavericks led 13-0 with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
The Hornets put together a solid drive late in the first quarter but turned the ball over on downs at the Anderson County 23-yard line.
Six plays later, Gallahar scored on an 11-yard run to open the second quarter.
Wagner added the extra point to build the Maverick’s lead to 20-0.
At that point, the rains came. In monsoon-like conditions each team struggled to hang onto and move the ball. Frequent lightning forced a delay of roughly an hour as players and fans alike scrambled for shelter from the weather.
When the game resumed, the Anderson County defense wasted little time in getting the ball back. They forced a fumble at the Carter 34-yard line and the offense went back to work — briefly.
On the first and only play of the drive, Martin found Moog, who made a great move to elude a tackle near the 10-yard line and score.
Wagner added the extra point and the Mavericks led 27-0 as the game went into halftime.
After forcing the Hornets to punt to open the third quarter, the Maverick scored again on a one-play drive as Gallahar rambled up the middle, over and past defenders, for a 38-yard touchdown.
Moog ran in the two-point conversion and the Mavericks led 35-0 with 10:50 remaining in the third quarter, starting the continuous clock of the “mercy rule.”
Just 12 seconds later the Mavericks found paydirt again as Carroll intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for his third touchdown of the game.
Wagner kicked the PAT and the Anderson County lead swelled to 42-0 with 8:43 left in the third quarter.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the Mavericks’ defense held and forced a quick three and out from the Carter 12-yard line.
The punt was shanked and Anderson County took possession on the Carter 18-yard line.
With reserves in the game, the Mavericks put together a five-play drive that was capped by a one-yard touchdown plunge by Joshua Miller.
Wagner added the extra point and the Anderson County lead stood at 49-0 with one second remaining in the third quarter.
Working against reserves, the Hornets managed a late touchdown to break up the shut out but the score was cosmetic only as the Mavericks opened the 2018 season looking very much like the powerhouse 2017 team.
Following the game, head coach Davey Gillum lauded the efforts of the entire team but in particular the excellent work up front of the offensive and defensive lines.
He also talked about the discipline and maturity his team displayed in the face of multiple unsportsmanlike and personal foul penalties committed by the Hornets.
“It’s something we’ve been harping on. We believe we’ve got a good football team and great players. They proved that last year and the heart of that team is back this year. There are some things we’ve got to get better at and poise is one of them. We’ve always got to strive to execute better but as a team we’re trying to play cleaner football — [eliminate] fumbles, missed assignments, penalties — the whole thing,” he said.
“We actually got congratulated several times tonight by the refs for doing that,” Gillum said.
In less than three full quarters of work (and with no summer scrimmages under his belt) Martin showed no signs of rust as he went 8-13 for 115 yards for three touchdowns.
Gallahar led the Mavericks with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Moog had four receptions for 65 yards and a score while Carroll hauled in four passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Stone Cummins led the defense with seven total tackles while Gallahar and Ethan Powers each recorded six total tackles.
Each of them as well as Carroll, Brandon Seidner, Noah Colorusso, and Russell Lindsay each had a tackle for a loss.
Gallahar, Trey Noe, and Matthew Calhoun each recovered a fumble.
The Mavericks (1-0) travel to William Blount on Friday.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
First downs 4 14
Rush yds. 84 129
Pass yds. 0 109
Total yds. 84 238
Comp/att/int 0-6-1 9-16-1
Turnovers 4 2
Penalties 12-103 7-60
Time of poss. 26:35 21:25