Tyrus Reddin scored three touchdowns, three different ways, and Dony’e Taylor returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown as the Cape Central Tigers dominated in a 48-8 district semifinal victory over Hillsboro at home Friday night. The Tigers advance to the district championship game on Friday at Farmington (9-2). The two teams met on September 20, a 23-6 Knights victory.
Cape Central wasted no time in letting everyone know how this game was going to go when Taylor returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. The score put the Hawks immediately on their heels, as they were playing comeback football before they ever got their hands on the ball. Taylor said he owed it all to the other ten players on the field. “Great blocking by my teammates,” he said. “I also listen to coach yell on the side, and he motivates me so much. It was just perfect blocking from my team, and that allowed me to cut through the middle and score.”
It was complete domination in the first quarter as the Tigers would score two more times. DaShawn Franklin scored on a one yard run, and then Reddin scored the first of his three touchdowns on an electrifying 85 yard run. Breyton Osburn was on target on all his extra points in the first quarter, and Cape Central was up 21-0 after the first 12 minutes.
And while the Tigers were dominating, Hillsboro wasn’t quitting. They got the ball all the way down to the Tigers’ seven yard line at one point in the second quarter before turning the ball over on downs. And they scored their only touchdown of the night on a 17 yard pass play. They added a two point conversion, and the score stood 21-8 with just 2:03 left in the first half.
But the Tigers’ explosiveness, which has been a trademark all season, wouldn’t let Hillsboro feel too good about itself for too long. Only 17 seconds elapsed before Reddin struck again. This time, he hauled in a 57 yard pass from Cameron Cox, and as Osburn added the PAT, CHS was back up 28-8. And to make sure Hillsboro went to the locker room at halftime with absolutely no momentum, the Tigers scored a touchdown with just 3.8 seconds to go in the half, which completely devastated the Hawks and their followers. Franklin bounded into the end zone from two yards out, and the Tigers and Hawks retreated to their warm locker rooms with the score 34-7.
The third quarter really didn’t provide much suspense. The sense was that Hillsboro was going to have a hard time stopping the Tigers’ attack, and that the result could be a running clock when the score reached that point. It did take the Tigers a little time to get back on the board, but it happened with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter. Taylor struck again, this time when he and Cox connected on a 30 yard TD pass. With Osburn’s kick, it was 41-8. Then, on the next Hillsboro possession, Reddin scored his third touchdown of the night by picking off a pass and racing 24 yards for a pick six. The score was 48-8 and the clock was running for good.
The Tigers were extremely balanced, gaining 149 yards through the air, and 173 yards rushing. The defense forced three turnovers, and the Tigers limited their penalties to just four for 25 yards. Cox was five of eight passing with two touchdowns, Reddin rushed for 128 yards on seven carries, and he also caught two passes for 78 yards. Damione Edwards had an interception.
Head coach Kent Gibbs is pleased with how his team is playing. “The kids just played really well tonight,” he said after the game. “The big thing is that we have improved on both sides of the football. Obviously, tonight we did a good job against the run.” Hillsboro, a predominantly run-oriented team, didn’t have much luck through the first three quarters gaining substantial yardage.
“Our defense played fantastically,” junior Levi Tuschhoff noted after the game. “Other than the one busted pass coverage, we played almost flawless. We didn’t let up the second half, and never took our foot off the gas. I’m looking forward to next week. I think we have a good chance to win districts and go even further.” Senior Nolan Ewers said that both the offensive and defensive lines dictated play. “I think the offensive line had their best game yet in the simple fact that we worked as a team to execute blocks and insure the safety of the quarterback and running backs. Defensively, they also worked as a team to achieve the same goal, and that is everything in football in general.”
And Reddin, who scored a rushing touchdown, caught a TD pass, and returned an interception for a touchdown, simply said, “We played great, played as a team, and just went out there a got a victory.”
Heading into Friday’s game at Farmington, where the Tigers sit now (7-4) compared to this time last year, is like night and day. In 2018, Cape Central didn’t even play in November, losing its final game 61-0 at West Plains. The loss ended a miserable 1-9 season, and brought on a coaching change. But there has been a change of culture as well, and as Taylor mentioned, the belief that more could be achieved was instilled early on. “Ever since the first day of weight training, we believed in more than a 1-9 season,” he explained. “Our goal is the district championship title. Cape Central deserves it…it’s been way too long.”
We’ll see what happens at 7:00 p.m. Friday at Farmington.