Keenan running back Peter Easaw’s 96-yard touchdown run along the left sideline electrified the homecoming crowd at Bolden Stadium on Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Easaw’s feat came late in the fourth quarter, with Fairfield Central leading 42-12.
The Griffins closed out a 42-18 victory, but Keenan coach Mitch Moton said he was pleased with the physicality the Raiders (4-4 overall, 1-2 in Region 3-2A) brought against the Griffins.
“We were able to run the football,” Moton said. “We knew that we had a big-play guy in Easaw, he’s just a special player. We’ll just take this experience and build on it.”
The Raiders rushed for 329 yards, but the Griffins found the end zone regularly.
Quarterback DeAndre Belton hooked up with Kewaun Squirewell for two touchdowns and with Damien Bell for a third.
Belton also rushed 10 times for 176 yards for Fairfield Central (6-2 overall, 2-1). Even though Belton kept drives alive with his running, Fairfield Central coach Demetrius Davis said Keenan had bottled up the Griffins’ rushing attack.
“They came out in an old-fashioned Chicago Bears defense that covered everybody, and it forced us to have single blocks,” Davis explained. “The only thing we could do was run some gap scheme stuff and throw the ball.”
Throw it they did. The Griffins completed seven passes, but four were for scores: three Belton strikes and a touchdown pass from Bell to Squirewell.
Keenan had trouble covering Belton’s passing and rushing, but the Raiders’ offense gave the Griffins fits as well. Easaw carried 17 times for 180 yards and all three Raiders scores.
“They got after us and exposed us on the run,” Davis said. “But after the half, our guys came out and bowed their backs.”
“We felt like we won the battle for physicality. We felt that way,” Moton said. “We didn’t make plays when we had the opportunities. Our goal was to keep everything outside because we knew they had a quarterback who was capable of some tremendous plays.”
Fairfield Central took a 14-0 lead on a pair of Belton-to-Squirewell touchdown passes in the first quarter, from 38 and 21 yards.
Keenan ended the first with Hopkins’ 59-yard pass to Joshua McCord, which set the Raiders up at the Griffins 20-yard line. Easaw plowed his way into the end zone on the next play to start the second quarter.
Fairfield Central took a 21-6 lead with 5:44 left in the second quarter on Bell’s 14-yard touchdown run.
Keenan cut that lead to 21-12 on its final possession of the first half, an 8-play, 57-yard drive capped with Easaw’s punishing 14-yard TD run.
Once the second half got under way, it was all Fairfield Central. Griffins defender Dustin Padgett recovered a Keenan fumble early in the third. On the Griffins’ first play, Belton pitched to Bell on the right side. Bell hit Squirewell for a 26-yard touchdown completion at the 9:25 mark.
Keenan sustained a long drive that died out on the Griffins 29. Fairfield Central struck quickly again, with Belton finding Bell on a screen pass, and the running back darting 40 yards to the end zone at the 2:45 mark of the third.
Fairfield Central’s Reheim McDaniel blocked a punt early in the fourth, and the Griffins converted it to a 2-yard Larry Bell TD run with 11:19 left.
Easaw’s long scamper was the final highlight of the game.
F – Squirewell 38 pass from Belton (kick failed) 8:10
F – Squirewell 21 pass from Belton (Workman pass from Belton) 1:10
K – Easaw20 run (kick failed) 11:49
F – D. Bell 14 run (Walker kick) 5:44
K – Easaw14 run (run failed) 1:33
F – Squirewell 26 pass from D. Bell (Walker kick) 9:25
F – D. Bell 40 pass from Belton (Walker kick) 2:45
F – L. Bell 2 run (Walker kick) 11:19
K – Easaw 96 run (run failed) 4:05
RUSHING – Fairfield Central, Belton 10-176, D. Bell 8-33, L. Bell 4-11. Keenan, Hyman 7-47, Gray 8-77, Hopkins 10-25, Easaw 17-180.
PASSING – Fairfield Central, Belton 12-6-1, D. Bell 1-1-0. Keenan, Hopkins 8-2-2.
RECEIVING – Fairfield Central, Squirewell 4-83, D. Bell 2-44, L. Bell 1-8. Keenan, Pearson 1-18, McCord 1-59.