BARNESVILLE – It was no contest.
The Callaway Cavaliers took the first step toward a possible region title with an impressive 38-7 road win over the Lamar County Trojans on Friday.
Callaway (6-0 overall) will carry a 1-0 Region 5-AA record into Thursday’s home showdown with Heard County, a game that will go a long way toward determining a region champion.
Friday’s game was decided in the first half when Callaway surged to a 38-0 lead.
Callaway scored on each of its six first-half possessions, while Lamar County was limited to two first downs in the opening two quarters.
The second half went quickly with a running clock, and Lamar County avoided the shutout with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of our kids overall,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “We had a good week of practice, and we’ve just got to keep the momentum going.”
Lamar County has some talented players on offense, but it had no chance against a Callaway defense that owned the line of scrimmage.
Lamar County quarterback Malik Collier was under siege all night, and he was unable to get anything going.
“The defense really played well the first half,” Wiggins said. “I think they gave up two first downs. They had a great week of practice, and played really fast. They showed up tonight.”
Callaway’s versatile and explosive offense put five touchdowns on the scoreboard in the first half, and Noah Stephens made a field goal for the other score.
Senior quarterback Dylan Johnson threw touchdown passes of 51 and 12 yards to Braylon Sanders, and Johnson also had a 30-yard scoring run.
Junior running back DJ Atkins, who is closing in on 1,000 yards, had touchdown runs of 10 and 29 yards.
“Offensively, we executed, and made some big plays,” Wiggins said. “We made adjustments. And the guys up front did a good job with their blocks.”
Callaway took control from the get-go.
Lamar County had third-and-short on its first possession, but Callaway defensive lineman Lichon Terrell made a tackle for no down to force a punt.
Three plays later, the Cavaliers were in the end zone.
Callaway’s first two offensive plays netted zero yards, and on third-and-long from midfield, Johnson threw a jump ball in the direction of Sanders.
The coverage was there, but Sanders went up and snatched the ball away at the 20-yard line, and he waltzed into the end zone for the touchdown.
Stephens made the first of his five extra points, and Callaway was ahead 7-0 with 8:49 to play in the opening quarter.
“I always have had confidence in him, and I always will,” Johnson said. “He’s the best receiver I’ve ever seen. He’s always got a chance to come down with the ball. All of our receivers are good, and the offensive line played great tonight.”
On its second possession, Callaway got the run game going.
Atkins had eight carries for 32 yards on a drive that ended with a 27-yard field goal by Stephens, and the lead was 10-0 with 1:10 to play in the opening quarter.
Following a short punt, Callaway took over at the Lamar county 37-yard line.
Johnson had a 15-yard keeper on third down to keep the drive alive, and on the next play, he found Sanders for a 10-yard completion on a screen play.
Atkins capped that five-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run, and Callaway was ahead 17-0 with 9:06 remaining in the first half.
Following Lamar County’s fourth straight three-and-out, a shanked punt set Callaway up just 29 yards from the end zone.
On the next play, some nice blocking up front sprung Atkins, and he out-raced the Lamar County defense for a 29-yard touchdown, and the lead was 24-0 with 7:38 left in the first half.
Callaway’s defense promptly forced another Lamar County punt, and the offense took over at its own 36-yard line.
A 44-yard run by Atkins followed by a facemask penalty put the ball ont he 12-yard line, and it was time for Sanders to make his presence felt once again.
Johnson threw a jump ball into the end zone, and Sanders went up and grabbed it for the touchdown, and with 4:14 still to play in the first half, Callaway’s lead was 31-0.
Lamar County was stymied once again, with Terrell making a tackle for loss on second down before getting pressure on the quarterback on third down to force an incompletion.
The Cavaliers began their final possession of the first half from their own 48-yard line, and it took them five plays to score again.
Johnson completed back-to-back passes of six and 12 yards to Courtney Williams and Sanders, respectively, putting the ball on the 30-yard line.
Two plays later, Johnson took off and scored on a 30-yard run play, and with 47 seconds to play in the first half, Callaway was up 38-0.
Quay Parks put Lamar County on the board with a 10-yard touchdown run with six minutes to play.
OF NOTE: For more on Friday’s game, check out Monday’s sports section. And for more photos, go to facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports