to play football during the 2008 season, Plymouth running back
Jernarian Caldwell was forced to watch from the sidelines, waiting for
his far-off chance, dreaming of the damage his 4.45 speed could inflict
on opposing defenses.
Caldwell's dreams became reality Friday night against Livonia Churchill when the fleet-footed senior juked, cut, sprinted and powered his way to 215 yards on 24 carries to lead the Wildcats to a 31-7 Homecoming Night victory.
The numbers could have been a lot healthier, but his 67-yard TD jaunt in the first quarter was nullified by a penalty.
"I wasn't upset at anybody about that," he said, smiling. "I was just mad that I had to jog all the way back to the other end of the field."
It was the only time all night he was jogging. Churning out yards behind the Wildcats' power blocking schemes, Caldwell hit the holes hard when they were there and created opportunities himself when they weren't.
"Our O-line really stepped it up this week," said Caldwell. "We went to our power team and I just ran threw them. They just try to get me to the second level, then I can do whatever I want."
Plymouth coach Mike Sawchuk credited a return to fundamentals as the primary reason for Friday night's impressive groundwork.
"The key to our success tonight was that we finally got off the football," said Sawchuk. "If you give Jernarian and Vic (Hicks) room to run, they're very dangerous.
"You can have the best running back in the world, but if the people up front don't get off the football, you're not going to run."
Plymouth's offensive line consisted of Matt Priebe, Jordon Birman, Matt Sheridan, Christopher Belanger and Tyler Goble.
"They did a great job tonight," Sawchuk elaborated.
Plymouth set the tone early, driving 80 yards on 13 plays on their opening drive. Caldwell capped the possession with a pop-outside touchdown run with 4:30 left in the opening quarter. Kyle Brindza added his first of four extra points.
Both defensive units shined following the game-opening TD. Churchill had three straight three-and-outs thanks to the standout play of Wildcat defenders Daryl Cohn, Tony Rhodes, Jacob Zawaski, Jamie Emminger, Alexander Ruffin-Johnson and Tyler Grosh.
Plymouth doubled its lead to 14-0 with 3:25 left in the first half when Caldwell powered in from six yards out.
After the 'Cats forced another three-and-out, Plymouth drove 59 yards to set up a successful 24-yard field goal by Brindza, upping the score to 17-0.
Plymouth extended its lead to 24-0 1:37 into the second half when Caldwell bounced out of a jam-packed middle then sprinted down the sidelines to complete a 50-yard touchdown run.
The Cats' next touchdown was set up by Tyler Goble's block punt that gave Plymouth golden field position at the Churchill 44. Three players later, quarterback Victor Hicks electrified the crowd with a dazzling Michael Vick-like 45-yard scramble touchdown to amp the lead to 31-0.
A botched exchange between center and holder led to a missed 24-yard field goal by Brindz with 10:57 left in the game.
lone score came when Michael Kutek rumbled in from five yards out with
3:21 to play.
Plymouth outgained Churchill 399 to 242 in total yards. Hicks did a brilliant job engineering the winners' offense, rushing 15 times for 143 yards. His only pass completion wen to Brennen Beyer for nine yards.
Ed Wright can be reached at
email@example.com or (734) 453-1980.