ADAIRSVILLE — Nothing usually comes easy in rivalry games, and Calhoun found that out on Friday night at Adairsville.
But the Jackets made some big halftime adjustments after holding a slim lead at the break and went on to dominate the final two quarters for a 42-16 win over the rival Tigers.
Calhoun (6-1, 2-0 in Region 6-AAA South) led 21-16 at the half, but their defense was impressive in the second half, holding Adairsville scoreless and giving them very few first downs.
“I’ll tell you what, I was very pleased with the adjustments we made at the half and the way we came out and played in the second half, especially our defense,” said Calhoun coach Hal Lamb. “We shut them out in the second half, and we really gave them a touchdown in the second quarter so we only allowed 10 points to an offense that is averaging around 40 per game. The kids were ready to play tonight, and our defense was incredible once again.”
Calhoun came out and got an immediate stop in the third quarter as Adairsville (3-3, 0-1 subregion). The offense then cashed in with a one-yard touchdown run from Gavin Gray to go up two scores and start the second-half onslaught. Gray had a huge offensive night as he was a part of six touchdowns for the Jackets, throwing for four and running for two.
They added two more scores in the fourth quarter as Gray connected with Luke Moseley for a 13-yard touchdown pass and then Zack Fuller for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Gray threw for 276 yards on 15-of-23 passes with four touchdowns. He bounced back in the game after tossing two interceptions in the first quarter.
“We made some mental mistakes offensively that we can’t make, but kids came back and made some big plays after that,” said Lamb. “Gavin played really well and made some great throws after the turnovers. He was really decisive in the running game too.”
Calhoun also blocked a punt in the second half with Payton Morrow recovering deep in Adairsville territory to set up one of the final two scores.
The first half was a collection of momentum-shifting plays that started with a defensive battle in the opening quarter. Calhoun finally broke through with 25.8 seconds to play in the first quarter when Gray connected with Drew Rutledge and the junior receiver raced 69 yards for a touchdown catch to put the Jackets up 7-0.
But Adairsville answered right back with a long drive that was capped off by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Mason Boswell to Ethan Belcher to tie things up early in the second quarter.
Calhoun once again got a big play with 4:11 left in the half as Gray hit Moseley streaking down the middle of the field behind the Adairsville defense for a 77-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7.
Adairsville’s Josh Honea kicked a 37-yard field goal about a minute later to make it 14-10. The two teams traded interceptions on two straight plays shortly thereafter as Boswell picked off a Gray pass at his own one-yard line. But on the next play Brannon Spector intercepted a Boswell pass and returned it to the Adairsville 1. Adairsville’s Reed Hughes also had an interception in the first quarter.
Gray pushed it in from there on a one-yard quarterback sneak to make it 21-10 with 1:36 to go in the second quarter, but once again Adairsville answered right back on a quick drive that spanned 54 yards and was capped by a Cody Henderson 27-yard touchdown catch on a jump ball from Boswell. The Tigers missed the extra point, and the teams went into the half a few seconds later with Calhoun leading 21-16.
Calhoun will get a chance to rest a little next week with an off week. They return to The Reeve on Oct. 20 to host rival Sonoraville.
“It’s a big week for us to get some rest, and we’ll use it to start getting ready for Sonoraville as well,” said Lamb. “We need to get our legs back under us, and this bye week is coming at a good time in the season.”