Cavs still learning to finish
Going into the half tied with a team like Crest is no small task, but as the East Rutherford Cavaliers learned Friday night, playing with the Chargers for four quarters is a different story.
After tying Crest 14-14 with less than a minute in the first half, East Rutherford allowed 21 unanswered points en route to a 35-14 loss.
"I thought we played a good half but there's four quarters in a game," East Rutherford head coach Clint Bland said. "We just somehow have to be able to finish a game."
However, this isn't a new issue for the Cavaliers (3-6, 3-3 SMAC) who lost leads in the late stages of one-point loses to North Gaston and Tuscola.
Down just six points early in the fourth quarter with momentum on their side, Cavalier quarterback Austin Hollifield had a tipped pass intercepted by Crest's Jordan Oates.
"That was the turning point of the game," Bland said. "They got the ball deep in our territory and they jumped back up two scores. At that point it was still 20-14 and we had a chance."
That untimely interception was the only blemish on the night for Hollifield who threw for 224 yards and two scores.
Unfortunately, the rushing game for East Rutherford managed just 11 yards on 35 carries. Bland places most of the responsibility on the offensive line.
"We watched every offensive play three times and I only saw one play that we did right on the line," Bland said. "The other 70-something plays we had at least two screw-ups ... and in Week 9 they should know the assignments."
The lack of run blocking and pass protection only makes Hollifield's night that much more impressive.
"He played as well as he could play," Bland said. "When you have two or three guys chasing you and you're having to run out of the pocket or there isn't even a pocket there, it's tough. You're asking a lot of a kid that only has nine games of varsity football experience to play well under those conditions."
Bland sympathizes with his senior quarterback.
"I never played quarterback so I don't know what it's like, but I wouldn't want to be chased down by two or three Shelby or Crest linemen," Bland said. "Not to mention we had three or four drops that hit receivers right ion the hands so he could have had an even bigger night."
Despite Hollifield's big night, Crest running back Jalin Moore, who carried the ball on 26 of Crest's 43 offensive plays, stole the spotlight with 273 yards rushing and five touchdowns and gave Crest (8-1, 6-0 SMAC) the win.
Now the Cavaliers look to get back in the win column as they make the short trip to R-S Central this Friday to battle the surging Hilltoppers.