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Wren steps on gas and doesn't let up against Westside

Posted Saturday, October 01, 2011 by Sidney McClain

 

 
Wren High School quarterback Caleb McCain runs the ball in the first quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Wren High School quarterback Caleb McCain runs the ball in the first quarter.

—On the road home from a gut-wrenching loss to Greenwood, Wren coach Jeff Tate wasn’t about shield his team from the public’s criticism.

He turned on local talk radio and the Golden Hurricanes listened to Greenwood and Easley fans pounding their chests after wins.

It gave the team all the motivation it needed.

Wren picked itself off the mat Friday and dominated Westside in every aspect of the game en route to a 61-2 thrashing at Hurricane Stadium.

“We knew we had to come back strong, focus and do what we do,” junior receiver Brandon Coleman said. “We couldn’t let one loss beat us.”

Both Westside (0-6, 0-2 Region 1-4A) and Wren (5-1, 1-1) were coming off losses to ranked opponents and entered the night searching for their first region win, but were clearly headed in different directions.

The ‘Canes nearly came all the way back from a 28-point deficit against No. 5 Greenwood while the Rams continued their trend of managing little to no offense in a loss to No. 9 Easley.

“That was one game,” Tate said of the Greenwood loss. “I told them it’s an 11-game season and there are going to be peaks an valleys. I just hope that we’re peaking at the end of the season.”

Senior quarterback Caleb McClain completed 12-of-20 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns while the ‘Canes defense allowed three yards of total offense and three Westside first downs to jumpstart the push to the finish.

In the process they delivered the Rams their worst loss since a 62-7 rout coming at the hands of Dorman in 1999.

Rams coach Ted Luckadoo took his team off the field immediately after the postgame handshake and was unavailable for comment.

“We heard all the Greenwood and Easley fans talking. We couldn’t listen to that,” said Coleman, who made four catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. “We knew the only way we could stop it was by winning.”

In the teams’ meeting last season, the Rams took an early lead and the ‘Canes allowed them to hang around late in the fourth quarter before Wren came away with a 35-20 win.

This time the ‘Canes stepped on the gas and never let up.

McClain threw touchdown passes of 27, 70, 14 and 38 yards in the first half. The senior found a soft spot in the Ram defense, which seemed to be rotating its coverage against some formations, hitting Coleman for scores on deep throws to the middle of the field.

“Caleb and I talked about us needing to hook up on a few passes,” Coleman said. “When I was on the outside I knew that if they backed off in coverage I’d stop, but if they moved up on me I’d just keep going.”

After each team went three plays and out to open the game, Wren needed just two plays before McClain found Dexter Jackson (6 receptions, 133 yards) for a touchdown. The ‘Canes scored on three out of their next four drives, including a Levi Bufford-led drive where the junior capped a 45-yard drive with a plunge into the end zone to put Wren up 30-0 in the second quarter.

Westside, who turned the ball over five times in the first half, had all kinds of problems snapping out of the shotgun, losing three fumbles on snaps over quarterback Austin Nichols’ head.

Wren extended the lead 61-0 in the second half on two touchdown passes by junior Joey Stansell, who entered the game in relief of McClain in the third quarter.

A long snap that went over Wren’s punter’s head and out of the back of the end zone accounted for Westside’s only points of the game.

Noted: Bufford was ejected in the second half and his status for next week’s game against Woodmont is in doubt.

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