Carver-Atlanta scored 28 second-half points and held off a last-second Columbia drive to win 28-27 Friday at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta.
Carver (4-0) is undefeated after four games for the first time since 2007, when the Panthers won their first 11 games before losing in the second round of the playoffs. Last year was Carver’s first losing season in seven years under coach Darren Myles.
“It’s something about that 5:30 game,” Myles said. “I don’t know what it is, but we don’t play well at all. I told them at halftime we need to play the Panther way, the way we are accustomed to playing.”
Columbia quarterback Courtney Davis dropped back to pass on third down and lost the ball with 3:45 to go. Carver recovered at the 24 and scored five plays later when Montavious Taylor ran in from 5 yards out. The Eagles took over at the 35 and drove inside the Carver 30 before Christopher Beady’s last-second field goal try fell short.
Carver couldn’t seem to get out of its own way early as the offense failed to pick up a first down and hovered around zero total yards for most of the first half. Along with stout defense, Columbia (2-2) used several backs and timely passing offensively to pull ahead 21-0 by halftime.
“I told the offensive line I needed to see toughness and physicality, and I needed to see tempo from the offense,” Myles said.
Carver showed life in the second half, however, scoring on its first drive after the break behind strong running from seniors D.J. Johnson and Montavious Taylor. Taylor pulled the Panthers to within 21-8 when he leapfrogged a Columbia defender and scored from 16 yards out. On the Panthers next possession, Johnson took a handoff and went 63 yards up the left sideline for a score to pull Carver within 21-14.
Brown found Travis Taylor for a 60-yard score on third down to put Columbia ahead 27-14.
Quarterback Andre Brown connected with William Belcher for an 11-yard score to give Columbia the early lead. Belcher finished a 10-play, 70-yard drive when he outran a defender across the field to the left corner of the end zone. Carver botched a punt at its own 15 on the next drive, and Columbia’s Montez Brooks broke free for a score on the next play.
The Eagles pushed across a third first-half score by driving 60 yards on seven plays just before halftime.
Columbia 14 – 7 – 6 – 0 – 27
Carver-Atl 0 – 0 – 14 – 14 – 28
Columbia – Andre Brown 11 pass to William Belcher (Christopher Beady kick)
Columbia – Montez Brooks 15 run (Beady kick)
Columbia – Blair Davis 1 run (Beady kick)
Carver – Montavious Taylor 16 run (Jordan Holden pass)
Carver – D.J. Johnson 63 run (conv failed)
Columbia – Brown 60 pass to Travis Taylor (kick failed)
Carver – Taylor 5 run (Holden pass)
Carver – Holden 1 run (pass failed)