CHERAW––––After two dominating performances last year, the Cheraw Braves looked to bounce back after a two game skid against the Central Eagles last Friday. A fumble on the first play gave the Eagles a slight edge in momentum and that’s all the Eagles needed.
The Eagles defeated the Braves 33-13 to move to 4-0 on the season, but it also gave them their first win against the Braves since 2003.
A total of 8 points is what the Eagles had managed against the Braves since 2003. Eagles head coach Joey Mangum said that scoring was a big relief in the ball game.
“Just scoring got the monkey off of our backs against them,” Mangum said. “Being able to win is like getting a gorilla off your back. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew that we would have to play well to beat them.”
Playing well defensively was the key to the Eagles’ success. The Eagles held the Braves to 199 yards of total offense. More importantly, they held the Braves in check on the ground.
The Braves were only able to gain 73 yards on 28 carries against the Eagles. Montrell Evans was the Braves leading rusher with 9 carries for 33 yards. Chad Wilkes had 5 carries for 31 yards and the Eagles were able to hold Travis Small to 10 carries for only 26 yards.
Gray Stafford was 5 for 12 passing with 126 yards and two touchdowns. Stafford connected with Sammy Merriman for a 7-yard score and Jurrell Riley on a 41-yard pass for a touchdown.
Mangum says that he knew that if his team had a chance of winning, they would have to shut down the run.
“You set out to stop what a team does best,” Mangum said. “When you commit people to the run like we did, you are vulnerable to the pass. We felt like we had to keep them from running the ball and we did that. We wanted to keep the big plays to a minimum.”
The Eagles led at the break 19-13, but Mangum says that he felt his team controlled the game.
“I thought we were dominating the game but the score was very close,” Mangum said. “They had a couple opportunities to get right back in it and possibly take the lead.”
The Eagles offense, as always, dominated on the ground. A total of 305 yards on 55 attempts on the ground is what the Eagles were able to get in the victory. A good portion of the yards were gained in the fourth quarter.
A 14-point fourth quarter put the game away for the Eagles.
“I felt pretty good about it when we made the score 27-13 but that last touchdown sealed it for us,” Mangum said. “Travis Rivers really just took over the game and played really well. I’m proud of Corky Clark too. He ran the ball really well and he is a playmaker.”
Rivers had 22 carries for 131 yards and two scores. Clark carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards. Terrance Thomas had 58 yards on 6 attempts.
The Eagles will host rival Chesterfield tomorrow night, while the Braves will travel to Charlotte to take on Providence Day. Cheraw will look to turn their fortunes around before they begin region play next week.