In rivalry games, when you get the chance to put the opposing team away, you take it. You definitely do not want them to hang around and gain confidence as the game goes on.
Calhoun got a lead early on Friday over cross-county foe Sonoraville and never let their foot off the gas to roll to a 41-3 victory.
The Jackets (7-1, 3-0 subregion) got a huge night through the air from Gavin Gray and a suffocating effort from their defense as they turned a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 34-3 advantage at the half. They then added one more score in the third quarter before both teams opted to use the younger players on the roster as time drained away due to the running clock.
Calhoun coach Hal Lamb said his team knew they had to take advantage of the game early on to keep Sonoraville (4-5, 1-3 subregion) from grasping any kind of momentum.
“It’s really big...you can’t let a team like Sonoraville hang around because they can hurt you if you let them,” said Lamb. “But I was really pleased with how we played. We were very physical on defense and did our job on that side of the ball, and our offense executed in the running game and passing game. It was a great team win overall.”
Gray finished the night with 358 yards on 19-of-23 passing for 358 yards and four touchdowns in just two quarters plus one series of work in the third. He spread it out two five different receivers led by Drew Rutledge with four catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns, including an 83-yarder. Tyler Putnam also caught six passes for 93 yards, and Bralin Barton had two catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.
“Gavin played really well, and he even had some drops from his receivers that could’ve made it an even bigger night for him,” said Lamb of his junior signal-caller. “He threw it well and made the right decisions. He just keeps getting better and better with each game.”
The offensive onslaught began early as the Jackets punched in two touchdowns in the first quarter. The first came on an eight-yard connection from Gray to Rutledge to punctuate a long, efficient drive.
After the teams traded turnovers on back-to-back plays with Sonoraville getting a fumble recovery from Hunter Brock near midfield and then Calhoun’s Logan Parker snatching an interception at his own 17, the Jackets used a quick strike with Gray finding Rutledge over the middle and then the junior used his speed to go 83 yards for the score to make it 13-0. (The Jackets missed the first extra point, but Elmer Gutierrez was 4-for-4 from that point on.)
Sonoraville got a bit of life shortly into the second quarter when the snap on an attempted Calhoun punt flew over the head of the punter, and he fell on it at his own 11. The Phoenix could only manage three out of the possession, however, as Dawson Holbrook connected on a 27-yard field goal.
Calhoun controlled the rest of the half from there, adding three more touchdowns to take a 34-3 lead into the locker room. Zack Fuller scored on a five-yard touchdown run, and then Gray threw two more touchdown passes, a three-yard fade to Luke Moseley and a 77-yard pass to Bralin Barton with the junior using his elusiveness and speed to get into the end zone. Fuller finished as the leading rusher for the Jackets with 71 yards on 12 carries.
Gray finished the first half alone throwing for 310 yards on 18-of-21 passing with four touchdowns.
Calhoun added their final touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter as Fuller punctuated a long drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Sonoraville’s offense was held in check almost all night as they managed 113 total yards against the attacking defense of the Jackets. Tristan Key was the leading rusher with 63 yards on 16 carries, and he also had a couple nice kick returns.
Calhoun will be on the road next Friday for a big subregion game at Bremen as they could lock up the No. 1 spot in 6-AAA South with a win.
“Obviously that’s a huge game, and both teams know that,” said Lamb. “We’re going to be going down there for the first time, and I hear it’s a tough environment like our fans make it here. It’s a big game. We’ll be ready to go.”
Sonoraville is idle next week and will wait to see who their opponent will be on Nov. 3 in the Region 6-AAA Play-in game.