The Dillon Dynasty continues.
Dillon used a dominant defense and explosive offense to win its fourth state championship in the past six years with a 41-3 victory against Fairfield Central on Friday night in the Class 2A, Division I title game at Benedict’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
It’s the second year in a row the teams met in the finals, with the same result. It gives Dillon consecutive state championships for the second time in six years. They also won titles in 2008 and 2009.
“I consider us a dynasty right now until someone takes it away from us,” Dillon coach Jackie Hayes said. “What we’ve done over the last six years is phenomenal. We’ve played in five state championship games and won four of them. I’m real proud of my football team right now.”
It was a disappointing performance for Fairfield Central. The Griffiins came into the contest undefeated and hoped to win their first state championship since 1997.
“I’ll be honest, we just didn’t play good tonight,” Fairfield Central coach Demetrius Davis said. “We couldn’t block them. The turnovers didn’t help us. We knew execution-wise, to score on Dillon was going to be tough, but we felt like we could weather the storm and wear them down. But we couldn’t block them. They beat us in the trenches. It’s a 13-1 season, and I just wish it could have ended a little better. At the end of the day, we have to keep working and get better.”
This one was nearly over before it started.
The Wildcats opened both halves quickly. They forced a punt on the Griffins’ first series and used a methodical 10-play, 58-yard drive to strike first. They ran the ball on eight of the 10 plays and capped the drive with a 15-yard run by Damu Ford with 6:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Ford came up big three plays later when he intercepted a pass and returned it to the 24-yard line. On the next offensive play, Eri’Reon Hayes made a diving catch in the end zone with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.
“Two big scores there,” Jackie Hayes said.
Fairfield Central got on the board with a 27-yard field goal from Byron Sampson. The drive was set up by a Wildcats fumble at the 9-yard line, but the Griffins couldn’t move the ball and had to settle for the field goal.
Hayes, who finished with 157 yards and three touchdowns on four catches, added a 57-yard catch-and-run with 2:38 remaining in the half to make it 21-3.
Avery McCall, the sophomore quarterback, finished 7-for-12 for 164 yards and three touchdowns, all to Hayes.
“What a game by McCall and Eri-Reon Hayes,” Jackie Hayes said. “We challenged our kids at halftime, the offensive line, and they took over.”
The Dillon (12-2) defense didn’t need much cushion. The Wildcats came into the game allowing 5.6 points per game, with eight shutouts and 88 yards allowed per game. Including the championship game, Dillon allowed 15 points over the final nine games of the season.
Twice the Griffins forced turnovers inside the Wildcats’ 10-yard line but came away with three points.
“I’ve said it all year, in my 22 years , this is the best defensive group we’ve had,” Hayes said. “We proved it tonight. We shut down down a high-powered offense and held them to three and we gave them the three with a turnover.”
Dillon had two touchdowns in the opening 49 seconds of the third quarter. Hayes added a 69-yard scoring catch on the second play of the half and then Justin Cyprien picked up a loose ball on an errant hook-and-ladder play and rumbled for a 49-yard score a few seconds later.
DeAndre Belton was nearly the entire Fairfield Central offense. The senior quarterback ran for 54 yards on 16 carries and was 10-for-24 for 122 yards with two interceptions. The Griffins turned it over four times.
“They’re very good. I thought we would be able to hit some plays — and we did hit some — but they bend but don’t break much,” Davis said. “They have two Shrine Bowl linebackers, and they beat us up pretty good.”
Hayes was a little miffed his team wasn’t No. 1 coming into the game.
“Unbelievable, both sides of the ball, offense, defense,” he said. “We proved tonight why we should be ranked the No. 1 ranked team.”
D – Damu Ford 15 run (Tara Grimsley kick) 6:03
D – Eri’reon Hayes 24 pass from Avery McCall (Grimsley kick) 4:39
FC – Byron Sampson 27 FG 7:46
D – Hayes 57 pass from McCall (Grimsley kick) 2:38
D - Hayes 69 pass from McCall (Grimsley kick) 11:31
D – Justin Cyprien 49 fumble return (kick failed) 11:11
D – Anthony Blue 4 run (Grimsley kick) 10:56