Speed Kills: Central uses fast start to dispose of Vols, 37-6

Speed Kills: Central uses fast start to dispose of Vols, 37-6
Central running back Zion Morris returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown and scored to cap the Red Devils’ first offensive possession in a 37-6 victory over Jeff Davis High last Saturday at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl. Central, 2-2 overall and 2-0 in Class 7A Region 2, will play host to undefeated Enterprise High on Friday at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.Richard Day

How long did it take for the Central High to put Jeff Davis High away last Saturday at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery? Just 16 seconds.

Central’s Zion Morris took the opening kickoff and returned it 79 yards for his team’s first touchdown of the game. That touchdown plus Noah Pell’s extra point kick would have been enough to win the contest, but the Red Devils were far from calling it quits for the day. In fact, Morris wasn’t finished scoring himself.

“Getting off to a fast start was important no doubt. Zion returning the kickoff for a touchdown got everybody going and excited. I think we played very well against Jeff Davis. Our offensive line played well. Zion and the other backs played well. Both of our quarterbacks ran our offense very well. We got nine points off our special teams’ play,” Central coach Patrick Nix said.

Nix, Morris and Meeks lead early

Morris, a senior running back, ran the ball five times on the Red Devils first offensive possession of the day for 47 of his team-high 56 yards for the day. He ran for 8, 3, 16, 6, and 14 yards for the touchdown to cap the drive with 3:12 left in the first quarter. 

He added a nine-yard run on Central’s second scoring drive and called it a day running the ball with 10:25 left in the first half. He did return on the third offensive possession to catch a four-yard pass before taking a spot on the sideline to watch the remainder of the game.

That first scoring drive covered 96 yards in nine plays.

The second scoring drive took seven plays to cover 69 yards. Caleb Nix teamed up with recent Georgia commit Jackson Meeks three times during the drive for 55 of the 69 needed yards. The last catch was an 18-yard strike from Nix to Meeks that the senior receiver pulled in at the four and then broke free from a Jeff Davis defender to step into the end zone with 10:25 left in the half.

Nix and Meeks teamed up for 80 yards on five pass plays in the first half Nix stepped aside from his quarterbacking duties after his touchdown pass to Meeks. He was 6-for-8 for 84 yards with a touchdown for the day.

Miles does not let up

Central’s Trey Miles took over for the Red Devils at quarterback after Meeks scored and did not take his foot off the offensive pedal. The senior immediately drove the Red Devils 62 yards to give Central a 28-0 lead – though the 62 yards was extended 18 yards on back-to-back penalties.

Miles ran the ball in from the eight-yard line for the points, but before then hit Trevone Woods for 26 yards on a second-and-24 play along the way. Jamarkest Banks ran for 22 yards and caught a nine-yard pass during the eight-play drive.

Central defensive back Siraj Muhammad set up the Red Devils’ next scoring opportunity when he picked off a Jeff Davis pass and returned it to the Vols’ 49-yard line.

From there, it took Central’s offense one play to add to its point total. But it was one heck of a play. Miles had to chase down the snap from center back to the Central 40 before settling in to throw a 49-yard touchdown pass to a well-covered Meeks near the goal line. Meeks leaped high over a Jeff Davis defensive back to snare the pass from Miles and then trotted into the end zone for his second touchdown with 3:39 left in the half. Meeks left the game after that play with six catches for 139 yards with two touchdowns.

Muhammad adds final points

It would have been easy to take its 35-0 lead into the halftime intermission, but that was not to be. Jeff Davis took over after the ensuing kickoff at its 28-yard line and went backwards on its first two plays, losing two and five yards. On third down-and-17, the Vols gained just three yards and were forced to line up for a punt. The punt never made it down field as Muhammad blocked the kick and joined three Red Devils as they chased the ball into the end zone. But the players were not able to corral the bouncing ball before it crossed out the back of the end zone and had to settle for a safety instead of another touchdown. Central led 37-0.

Central took the ensuing kickoff from the Vols and took over at the midfield stripe. Miles threw a 28-yard pass to Karmello English. After a five-yard penalty, Banks ran for four yards and Central allowed the first half clock to expire.

The longest drive

As the second half began, Central’s special team dropped the Vols at their 10-yard line on the kickoff. Jeff Davis drove the distance in 14 plays to cut Central’s lead to 37-6. Along the march down the field, the Vols converted on three third down plays and scored on a one-yard run with 4:36 left in the third quarter. Jeff Davis ate away seven minutes and 24 seconds of the quarter against younger Central players as no Red Devil starters played in the second half.

Neither Central or Jeff Davis could manage to score any more points. The game ended with Central evening its record to 2-2 and 2-0 in Class 7A, Region 2. Jeff Davis ended 0-3, 0-1 in the region and still looking for its first win of the season.

Central finished the game with 353 total yards – 310 coming in the first half. Jeff Davis had 142 total yards – 19 coming in the first half. Morris led Central runners with 56 yards with a TD. Banks had 52 yards on nine carries. Don Hill had 20 yards on five carries and Miles had 19 yards on two carries with a TD. English had two catches for 32 yards and TJ Woods had two catches for 31 yards. Meeks led the receivers with six catches for 139 yards with two TDs. Nix completed 6-of-8 passes for 94 yards with a TD. Miles was 5-of-5 for 116 yards with a TD. Brooks Barbaree was 1-of-2 for five yards.

Big game this week

The Red Devils will take on undefeated Enterprise High tomorrow night at home at Garrett-Harrison Stadium. The Wildcats have wins over Carver-Montgomery 35-19, Dothan 42-13 and Davidson 52-13. They are 1-0 in Region 2 with the win over Dothan. Enterprise is 1-9 against Central in the last 10 years. The Wildcats are the only team to win a Region 2 game against Central since the two joined the region during realignment in 2014. The Wildcats won 17-14 in 2015 at its home stadium in a televised Thursday night game. Central is 37-1 in Region 2 since the 2014 realignment. The Red Devils have won the Region 2 title in each of the last six seasons. Enterprise has not come close to defeating Central since 2014. The Red Devils have defeated the Wildcats by scores of 43-24, 55-7, 48-0, and 42-13 since 2014.

“For us, it is our next game. Enterprise is playing really well,” Nix said. “It is important that we get ready to play.”