One or two plays normally make the different in the showdown referred to as “The Battle of Bolivar County.”
Friday night here at Leland Young Stadium, the Wildcats turned that battle into a complete massacre by grounding the Eagles 41-0. Cleveland improved to 2-0, while West Bolivar fell to 0-2.
Cleveland was able to pile up 404 yards of offense and shutout the Eagles for the first time since 2003.
Friday’s showdown marked the first time Cleveland has defeated West Bolivar in Kelly Causey’s four-year tenure as head coach and the first time Cleveland has won in the rivalry since 2010.
“I thought we tackled a little better than we did last year,” Cleveland High head coach Kelly Causey said. “We’ve still got some things we’ve got to correct. I think the offense is a little bit ahead of the defense right now, but any time we do a shutout against a West Bolivar team it’s a big accomplishment so I’m extremely proud of the defense.”
The game started out like it had the potential of being a barnburner. Cleveland’s defense forced West Bolivar’s offense to punt on its first two possessions, while West Bolivar’s defense flexed its muscles. Toward the end of the first quarter, Lamarus Usry recovered a fumble close to the goal line and went on a good return to get the Eagles at their own 43-yard line. The score was actually 0-0 after one quarter of action.
Despite not scoring, Cleveland’s ground attack did a good job of wearing down West Bolivar’s defense as fullback Zach Linkous racked up some tough yards to help Cleveland maintain its drives.
“He set the tone, because he opens it up for everybody,” Causey said. “Once you get the those linebackers going after that fullback and he’s doing a great job running it, it just opens it up for the other runners that we have.”
The Wildcats finally jumped on the scoreboard first with 9:37 left in the second quarter as Vaughnte Dorsey connected with Jatavis Scott who used his speed to complete the 51-yard touchdown pass. The kick from Owen Jackson was no good, but Cleveland had gotten the lead.
After that first touchdown, the rout was on. Dorsey galloped on a 20-yard touchdown run, and Andonte Maxie marched on a 15-yard touchdown run. Earnest Butler scored the 2-point conversion after Dorsey’s touchdown, while Hunter Norwood connected on the extra point kick after Maxie’s touchdown to make the score 21-0 at halftime.
The Wildcats continued their dominance in the second half. In the third quarter, Dorsey threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Kyran Parker and Scott marched on a 36-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Dorsey galloped on a four-yard TD run. Jackson kicked the PATs on Cleveland’s last two touchdowns to make the final score 41-0.
Cleveland’s defense also had fumble recoveries from Montavius Thomas, Darren Williams and Chase Fuller in the half to help keep the Eagles off the scoreboard.
“You have to credit coach Causey and his staff,” West Bolivar head football coach Joac Williams said. “They did a great job. We’ve got to back to work. We’ve got to work on tackling. We did a poor job of tackling. We missed some tackles in the backfield that I thought we should have made.”
Dorsey completed 3-of-5 passes for 107 with two touchdowns and rushed for 60 yards with two touchdowns on eight carries to help spearhead the Wildcats’ attack. Scott was Cleveland’s leading rusher with 85 yards and a touchdown on six carries, and he caught two passes for 57 yards with a touchdown.
Causey has been pleased with Scott’s play in the first two games of the season.
“We moved him over from the defense to the offense,’ Causey said. “He’s an explosive back and he blocks very well. (Andonte) Maxie blocks for him and they both have to in this offense.”
Maxie ended up finishing with 50 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven carries to aid the offense.
On defense, Williams led the way with two sacks in the contest. Larry Douglas racked up six solos with two assists, Butler recorded four solos and three assists and Dorsey recorded four solos to round out Cleveland’s defense.
For West Bolivar, Tyshawn Conway rushed for 38 yards on eight carries and complete 1-of-7 passes for three yards to lead the offense.
Rodriguez Bush recorded four solos and four assists for eight total tackles to spearhead West Bolivar’s defense, followed by Joshua Smith with five solos and two assists, Deteyvion Butler with four solos and four assists and Ladarius Ford with five solos and an assist.
Cleveland will be back in action on Friday when the team hosts Leland, while West Bolivar will play Ray Brooks in Benoit on Friday.