By Bill Banks
Decatur opened its 92nd consecutive season playing on the same location Friday night, and the ghosts of football games past saw something that possibly never happened in the previous 91.
With 1:41 left in in the game against Therrell, senior cornerback Terryon Robinson intercepted a pass and danced 101 yards for a touchdown, adding a punctuation mark to Decatur’s 46-7 victory.
There’s no way of knowing if this is a school record, but it’s definitely the longest ever for Decatur’s highly-recruited defensive back/wide receiver.
“This is my first year playing corner,” said Robinson, who went thoroughly untouched in his long romp. “I love the freedom. On that play, the quarterback went away from me, and I sort of left my man, and it was like he threw it right to me.”
Robinson spent much of the night demonstrating his slick versatility. Late in the first half he took a short pitch from sophomore quarterback Davontae Carter and zigzagged 44 yards to Therrell’s three, avoiding numerous tackles while changing directions more times than your average political candidate.
“On that one,” he said, “they kept trying to arm tackle me up high, and those are pretty easy to break. That run probably looked harder than it was. It sure was a lot of fun.”
The game opened with the Bulldogs making four turnovers – three lost fumbles and one interception – in the first 17 minutes. The team didn’t score its first points until Elijah Rachel’s five-yard touchdown run gave Decatur a 6-0 lead with 4:55 left until halftime.
A sophomore halfback, Rachel finished with 84 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, the best night of his very young career.
“We started slow and that really bothers me,” said head coach Brad Waggoner. “We can’t get away with that in a regional game, and we won’t get away with it next week against Greenville. But [quarterback] Davontae settled down and started making plays. I keep telling him he doesn’t have to be hero, he just needs to use the weapons he has and manage the game.”
Starting only his second varsity game at quarterback, Carter managed just fine, completing 15 of 19 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns while throwing to five different receivers. Terez Cowan caught six passes for 87 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass, while identical twin Perez (last week’s favorite target with five receptions) had two for 29 yards.
Both twins celebrated their birthday Friday by dyeing their hair orange which, according to Perez, “we’re gonna get cut into a Mohawk next week.”
Late in the first half Carter threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to the team’s quarterback the last two years, Vito Antinozzi, who spent the last 20 yards tight-roping the sidelines in a pretty nifty run of his own.
“We haven’t come close to running our entire offense yet,” Waggoner said. “The main thing is we want to be diverse so defenses can’t key on one guy like they did [on Robinson] last season.”
Decatur, now 1-1, had 391 yards total offense to Therrell’s 248 yards, including only nine yards total rushing, something which Waggoner takes particular pride.
Therrell now falls to 0-2.
The Bulldogs get a stiff early-season test next Friday playing Greenville, 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Decatur Stadium. Though a single-A squad, Greenville is 2-0 after Friday’s 7-6 win over Manchester, and hasn’t had a losing season since 2007. In the last four years (counting this year) the Patriots have gone 37-11 including last season’s 8-4.
“They won’t come in here intimidated,” Waggoner said. “They’ve had a lot of playoff experience the last few years and they’ll be a huge challenge. We’re gonna have to get better in a hurry.”