Early turnovers sink Charleroi
WIth Charleroi coming off its first win, coach Ed Jenkins expected his team to come out against Waynesburg Central with fire in its eyes.
As a team, though, the Cougars didn't live up to their coach's expectations.
Charleroi turned the ball over five times in the first half, two of which were returned for touchdowns, as the Raiders used a short field to roll to a 46-21 win over the Cougars.
“I don't care who you play, you're not going to beat anybody playing like that,” Jenkins said of his team's performance. “Our kids were flat and they weren't ready to play.
“I'll take the blame, it's on me. But I don't care who you play, when you turn the ball over and give up points on the other side like that, you might as well forget it.”
The Cougars (0-5, 1-5) marched down the field on their opening drive only to have the drive stall at the Waynesburg 15-yard line.
The Raiders capitalized as John Glen Davis ran through the Cougars' defense with 71 yards rushing on a eight play, 85-yard drive. He finished it off with a 21-yard touchdown run, his first of two scoring runs on the night.
“If the guy runs around the field on us and gains some yards, that's fine ... but the goal is to keep them out of the end zone,” Jenkins said.
Davis finished with 102 yards on 12 carries. He also caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colby Collins.
The next Charleroi drive ended quickly when quarterback Brennan Matthews threw an ill-advised pass directly into the arms of Waynesburg's Hunter Cenname. It was returned 46 yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders (2-3, 3-3) a quick 14-0 lead at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter.
The Cougars drove to the Raiders' 35-yard line behind the strong running of Brandon Bowman, who finished with a game-high 127 yards on 14 carries, but Matthews was picked off by Collins at the Waynesburg 20.
“He is what he is, he's a tough football player,” Jenkins said of his senior running back. “We knew the one thing we couldn't do coming in was turn it over, and that's exactly what we did.”
The two teams exchanged punts before the Cenname capped off a six-play, 52-yard drive with a 27-yard scoring run. The extra point was wide left giving the Raiders a 20-0 lead.
The nightmare continued for Matthews and the Cougar offense.
After driving 36 yards down to the Raiders' 38-yard line, Matthews called an option play only to have his halfback run the opposite direction. When Matthews made the flip, the only player in the area was the Raiders' Jacob Rush, who picked up the errant toss and returned it 47 yards for another touchdown.
“Our halfback went the wrong way,” Jenkins said. “That's not on Brennan. He did what he was supposed to do and our halfback wasn't there.”
Bowman continued his powerful running, destroying any Raiders' defender he lined up and scoring on a 6-yard run with 24 seconds remaining in the half.
The Cougars gained momentum after the break, holding Waynesburg on their opening possessiond, but they handed the ball, and the momentum right back to the Raiders on a short field when they fumbled a snap on an attempted fake punt. The Raiders' recovered on the Cougars' 9-yard line. Davis scored again two plays later.
“That was a freshman that made a mistake,” Jenkins said of the play. “We gave him an opportunity, maybe the moment was too big for him. He feels bad about it, he's a good kid and going to be a great player someday. He just has to keep his head up.”
The Cougars got on the board at the 11:35 mark of the fourth quarter after an 11-play, 78 yard drive was capped off by a Matthews 3-yard touchdown.
The senior quarterback finished the game 12 of 22 passing with 154 yards through the air.
Bowman capped off the scoring with an 18-yard run with just over a minute remaining.
Jenkins said his team will have to do some soul-searching this week as they prepare to travel to Greensburg Central Catholic.
“The first thing we have to do is search in that locker room. ... We have to find out who in that locker room has enough pride to continue playing for their school and their community and to represent us in a better fashion,” he said.
“We have to get some guys with some fire. If we don't, it can be a long week again next week.”
NOTES: Charleroi's Dakota Moorer finished with five catches for 49 yards. ... Matthews rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries. ... Cenname rushed for 91 yards on 15 carries for the Raiders. ... The Cougars out-gained the Raiders, 345-296.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2667.