Cardinals soar past Calhoun County

Published 11:30 am Monday, November 7, 2011

Landrum tailback Aaron Bryant carries the ball against Calhoun County Friday, Nov. 4 in the 1A state playoffs. The Cardinals dismantled the Saints for a 35-0 victory. Landrum will travel to Abbeville Friday, Nov. 11. (photo by Joey Millwood)

If there’s one thing Landrum rolled into the state playoffs with on Friday night, it was a short memory.

Last week’s tough 44-0 loss to Christ Church – where everything that could go wrong, went wrong – was forgotten.

The Cardinals stepped out onto the gridiron Friday night in the first round of the 1A state playoffs and dismantled Calhoun County en route to a 35-0 win.

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Landrum didn’t do anything different this week leading up to the Saints game, LHS Head Coach Russell Mahaffey said.

The difference this week was execution.

“All the credit goes to my kids and my coaches,” Mahaffey said.

Mahaffey has to take some credit, however. He still calls the defensive game for the Cardinals with Landrum dominating the Saints. The Cardinals held the Saints to just 25 yards on 22 carries and quarterback Terrence Whitmore to just 90 yards passing. Even more impressive, Aaron Bryant – who got his third and fourth interception in the last two weeks – and Peyton McCarter held Virginia Tech commit Mark Irick to zero catches.

“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Mahaffey said. “They just kept coming.”

Offensively, the Cardinals had their best performance in weeks under the direction of offensive coordinator Tucker Hamrick and quarterback Brandon Cannon. Cannon found his rhythm again. The senior threw for 195 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 63 yards and a touchdown.

“We could’ve put our heads down (after last week’s loss),” Cannon said. “I felt like we had a really good game plan and we executed it.”

Cannon hit McCarter for a 69-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and then ran in a three-yard score in the third quarter.

A big key in that game plan was getting the running game going again. The Cardinals struggled last week on the ground due to blocking issues, but those problems were nonexistent against Calhoun.

The Cardinals, led by Aaron Bryant, ran up 174 yards on the ground. Bryant ran for 88 yards and scored a touchdown in the second quarter.

“It felt great to contribute like that,” Bryant said. “We did good. I have to give it up to the (offensive) line.”

The Cardinals added their final two scores in the fourth quarter. Chasten Thomas picked off a Whitmore pass in the middle of the field and ran it back 30 yards for a pick six. JoJo Wilkins added a final score with 2:23 left in the game on a two-yard run.

The Cardinals will travel to No. 1 seeded Abbeville next Friday night.