Rawlins, Monessen Greyhounds race past California Trojans
Chavas Rawlins committed to West Virginia early so he could avoid distractions and focus on his senior season as the Greyhounds' quarterback.
Friday night, it was business as usual.
Rawlins had a hand — more like his arms and feet — in five of his team's six touchdowns as the Greyhounds visiting California, 41-13, at Memorial Stadium Friday in the Class A Black Hills Conference opener for both schools.
“When you have someone like that and they do those kinds of things, it's always a source of watching in amazement,” Greyhounds coach Andy Pacak said. “He's a special kid. You watch the things he does and its special.”
Rawlins ran for 144 yards on 10 carries and scored on runs of 47, 12, and 30 yards. When he wasn't doing it with his feet, it was his arm doing the damage. He completed 9-of-16 passes for 142 yards and connected on scoring strikes to Keith Davis (10 yards) and Clintell Gillaspie (55 yards). He exited the game with the score 41-7 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
“That was about right. It was the right time,” Pacak said of removing his quarterback from the game. “It's the first game. California lost a lot of people from last year. Brady (Barbero) is a good coach, they're only going to get better. He has some good players on that team.”
After Rawlins raced 47 yards on the second play of the game, the Trojans immediately answered on the ensuing kickoff when junior Demetri Clements exploded through the Greyhounds' kick coverage for an 89-yard return to the Monessen 1-yard line. Trojans' quarterback Malik Jackson dove in on the first offensive play to tie the game at 7-7.
From there, the Trojans' offense began to sputter,
Their next two drives ended with no yards gained and two punts. Those two drives were followed by drives that ended with a fumble and an interception by the Greyhounds' Trey Holmes.
“We have a lot of new guys offensively,” Barbero said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but there were a lot of things that we can build on with this young team. We battled to the end and made some nice plays offensively. The attitude of the team is good. These kids got a real first test tonight.
“Anytime you're playing someone like Rawlins, it's always a real test. He's an outstanding athlete and a good football player.”
With the score tied, Rawlins found Keith Davis on a middle screen pass for a 10-yard touchdown, then on the next Greyhound drive, he fired a rocket to junior-receiver Clintell Gillaspie for a 55-yard scoring strike.
Rawlins was quick to deflect the credit from himself for his performance.
“This is the best group of linemen I've seen since I've been here,” Rawlins said. “They're the best group of linemen I've ever had. They're so disciplined ... I'll take them over any other line.”
The Greyhounds stretched the lead to 27-7 at halftime with a Javon Brown 30-yard touchdown run. After the break, an interception by Irvin Green set the stage for Rawlins' 12-yard touchdown run.
Jackson ran three times for 31 yards on the ensuing Trojans' drive, but running back Cory Adams fumbled, which led to Rawlins taking off for a 30-yard touchdown two plays later. He left the game for good following that score.
“I was OK with that,” Rawlins said. “I like watching the Thundercats play, that's what we call the younger guys, because they are so young.”
The Trojans scored their final touchdown late in the fourth quarter when Adams returned a DeShawn Holmes fumble 25 yards for a score.
The Greyhounds now turn their attention to Brentwood, in what is sure to be an emotional game.
“It's a huge game,” Pacak said. “Huge. Bring your lunch box this week, you got to go to work. If you want to play the big boys you got to prepare to play them.”
For Rawlins, the Brentwood game will bring out the leader inside.
“I might not even smile this week,” Rawlins said. “I don't want my boys to get big-headed over this game. Hard work pays off and that's what we're going to do, work hard. It's going to be great. We're coming in Monday at 8 a.m. and get our work in.
“This is serious.”
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.