Blessed Trinity wasn’t going to be able to run with Cedar Grove. So the Titans decided to run through them.
Blessed Trinity ran the ball on 37 of its 44 plays, led by Milton Shelton’s 31 carries and 132 yards, to hold off Cedar Grove and win Region 6-AAA with a 21-14 win.
Shelton’s 132 yards were anything but flashy, as he didn’t notch a touchdown and 18 of his carries went for 4 or fewer yards.
But it was his running that set up the winning score in the third quarter, carrying the ball 6 times for 46 yards on an 8-play, 65-yard drive that finished with Chad Manthey cleaning up the final 4 yards for the score.
These were not massive running lanes Shelton was hitting, but he kept finding what yards he could, and the clock kept churning as he did.
“We just had to fight through it,” Shelton said. “It was hard to get through the hole, but every time we did, we would get 3 yards, 4 yards. It was just amazing.”
For the Titans (7-3, 5-1), the game plan was simple – run it as many times as Cedar Grove will let you, and you can’t give up big plays with the Saints offense standing on the sideline.
“We felt like we needed to run the clock and make first downs, because it’s really hard for us to run with them when they’re on offense,” Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin said. “That’s what we do.”
What Cedar Grove (6-4, 3-3) did was turn the ball over three times – all in Blessed Trinity territory – to kill multiple promising drives.
When the Saints maintained control of the ball, they moved it reasonably well, amassing nearly 350 yards of total offense, with both a 100-yard rusher (Deion Sellers) and a 100-yard receiver (Brandon Norwood).
But Norwood got 116 of his 118 yards in the first half, as he caught 8 balls and scored on a 57-yard toss. McFarlin said his team adjusted some coverages and made an effort to put more pressure on the quarterback in the second half, and it showed.
Cedar Grove quarterback James Hartsfield was 12 of 14 for 135 yards and a touchdown in the first half, then 6 of 10 for 55 yards in the second.
It’s the second region title in school history for Blessed Trinity, and the first since 2005, when the Titans started 1-4 but won their final five games to take Region 5-AAA.
BT 7 7 7 0 – 21
CG 0 14 0 0 – 14
B – Colin Bradley 41 pass from Conor Davis (Marc Nolan kick)
C – Labron Morris 2 run (Omulolu Daniel kick)
C – Brandon Norwood 57 pass from James Hartsfield (Daniel kick)
B – Patrick Jasinski 16 pass from Davis (Nolan kick)
B – Chad Manthey 4 run (Nolan kick)