Cape Central football wins big over Soldan International Studies in regular-season finale, jumps in district standings
Cape Girardeau Central quarterback Kway'Chon Chisom has been frustrated at times this season by his inability to make plays in the passing game. So during practices, the senior worked with quarterback coach Gary Lynch on his footwork and reading defenses, along with other facets of the game.
On Friday, that extra work paid off as a Central offensive line with two freshman starters gave Chisom enough time to pick apart the opposing secondary, allowing him to throw for three touchdowns and run for another on Senior Night as the Tigers rolled to a 54-20 win over Soldan International Studies at Cape Girardeau Central High School, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Aaron Harris added three more scores on the ground, and his older brother, Blake, finished with two TD receptions.
Central finishes the regular-season with a 4-5 record and will travel to fourth-seeded North County next week for a Class 4 District 1 Tournament first-round matchup. Friday's win, combined with other results, vaulted the Tigers from seventh in the district standings to fifth.
The victory over Soldan is likely the final home game for Chisom and 12 other seniors.
"A lot of seniors made a lot of plays and a lot of good plays, so I think everybody is happy at the end of the day," Chisom said. "It's over with now. We're ready to ball at the next game."
Chisom finished with 188 offensive yards, including 102 through the air.
The younger Harris had 221 yards on 18 carries (12.3 yards per attempt) and reached 1,000 rushing yards on the season. Junior Joe Baker added 106 yards and a touchdown to the rushing attack.
The youthful offensive line opened holes for Harris and Baker all night and often provided Chisom with a clean pocket. While senior center Colt Sweet sat out with an elbow injury, freshman Tyler Centers held his own.
"We had an injury to our starting center, and we had a freshman step in and he did his job for the most part," senior Trent Leimer said. "That's all you can ask out of him."
Freshman lineman Julian McBride also started for a second week in a row.
"Julian's been doing a great job for us the last couple weeks," Tigers' coach Arlen Pixley said. "Tyler Centers, I thought, played pretty well tonight. Hopefully we get Colt Sweet back next week. It's what we're planning on."
The hosts jumped out to an early lead over Soldan (3-6) after winning the coin toss and electing to receive. On the first possession, the Tigers put together a 10-play, 61-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard Chisom run.
Senior student manager and special-needs student Garrett Jones then scored on the two-point conversion after the two teams reached an agreement ahead of the game.
Soldan got on the board when quarterback Tyreik Fisher connected on a 5-yard TD pass to Torre Dyson late in the opening period, and the host Tigers returned the favor by allowing quarterback Torre Dyson to score on the two-point conversion. By that point late in the opening period, the visiting Tigers trailed 15-8. They didn't get any closer the rest of the way.
Following a 35-yard TD pass to Blake Harris in the first quarter, Chisom again found Harris in the end zone on the third play of the second period. That 7-yard TD was Harris' second, and final, catch of the game.
After another Soldan touchdown again cut the lead to seven with about a minute left in the half, Chisom responded with a 25-yard TD pass to Austin Parker, the junior's fifth of the season, and the hosts lead 28-14 at the intermission.
Parker had four catches for 59 yards Friday.
Chisom finished 7 of 10 with no interceptions and had half as many passing TDs Friday (three) as he had through the season's first eight games (six).
"He's got the ability to be a great quarterback," Pixley said. "Sometimes we don't protect it well enough for him up front, and it becomes a scramble fest and he's throwing off back feet."
The visitors dared Central to throw the ball early, stacking the box and playing man coverage in the secondary, Pixley said. Chisom's exploits through the air then opened up the ground game for Aaron Harris in the second half. In the final two quarters, the junior had 141 yards and all three touchdowns on nine carries.
After the two teams traded fumbles to start the second half, Central forced a turnover on downs and Harris scored on the next play, an 8-yard scamper. That was the first of four consecutive Central TDs before the visitors added a consolation score late in the final period.
Due to big kickoff returns, Soldan often started with great field position. On four occasions the visiting Tigers got the ball inside the opposing 10-yard line, but turned that into points only once.
Central's Cole Knight handed kicking duties Friday. Starting kicker Hunter Hiett injured his foot in a soccer game mid-week and is out for the rest of season, according to Pixley. Knight was 4 for 5 on extra-point attempts.
While Chisom was pleased with the Senior Night victory, he had already set his sights on next week's elimination game. And Pixley said he is pleased with where the Tigers are at heading into the playoffs.
"Man, let me tell you what," Pixley said, "I feel really good going into North County next week."
CC -- Kway'Chon Chisom 5 run (Garrett Jones run), 8:17
CC -- Blake Harris 35 pass from Chisom (Cole Knight kick), 5:21
S -- Tyreik Fisher 5 pass from Torre Dyson (Dyson run), 1:09
CC -- B. Harris 7 pass from Chisom (kick failed), 10:50
S -- Eric Rogres 23 pass from Dyson (pass failed), 1:07
CC -- Austin Parker 25 pass from Chisom (Knight kick), :23.9
CC -- Aaron Harris 8 run (Knight kick), 5:47
CC -- A. Harris 9 run (pass failed), 11:42
CC -- A. Hrris 19 run (pass failed), 10:01
CC -- Joe Baker 40 run (Knight kick), 6:11
S -- No. 14 61 pass from Dyson (pass failed), 4:31
RUSHING -- Soldan, Timothy Lunceford 19-24, No. 12 1-1, James Turner 2-0, Arnold Adams 1-0, Torre Dyson 15-(-7); Cape Central, Aaron Harris 18-221, Joe Baker 5-106, Kway'Chon Chisom 13-86, Detrick Merriweather 3-6, Blake Harris 1-3, Tanner Herbst 1-(-4).
PASSING -- Soldan, Dyson 14-32-245-1; Cape Central, Chisom 7-10-102-0, Herbst 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING -- Soldan, Eric Rogers 5-121, Tyreik Fisher 3-43, Adams 3-15, Quinton Hicks 2-5, No. 14 1-61; Cape Central, Austin Parker 4-59, B. Harris 2-42, Baker 1-1.