By Ben Baugh
It was about overcoming adversity early.
The Charlotte Tarpons, faced with a determined and focused Bulldogs defense, had three false starts called against them in the first quarter.
Charlotte quarterback John Busha had great success with completing passes early and used his receiving corp accordingly, as he and Jeremiah Harvey connected for three completions for 36 yards.
Key plays: The Tarpons Tai’Viahn Kelly’s 39- yard run that opened the game’s scoring. Tyler Amaral’s point after touchdown was good giving Charlotte the early lead.
The second quarter started with the Bulldogs Jakeemis Pelham recovering a fumble with the Tarpons in the red zone.
The Bulldogs appeared to be staging a successful scoring possession of their own with Tony Blanding completing a 14-yard pass to Keimar Richardson, but Charlotte would stifle the drive.
It was the Ta’Viahn Kelly show in the first half rushing for 84 yards on five carries. John Busha scored the Tarpons second touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback keeper with 4:54 remaining in the first half. giving Charlotte an authoritative 14-0 lead.
The Tarpons Jamal Warren intercepted Tony Blanding during the Bulldog’s second half’s first possession, adding to DeSoto’s frustration. A 13-yard run by Tai’Viahn Kelly put Charlotte in scoring position once again, and they took advantage of the opportunity with Ashar Thomas breaking two tackles and scoring from 10 yards out.
DeSoto remained steadfast and determined battling back, with Blanding connecting with William Maybel for an 18-yard gain.
A long pass attempt intended for Wesley by Blanding was broken up by Warren.
And if it was the Tai’Viahn Kelly show in the first half, it was the Jamal Warren showcase in the third quarter, as he intercepted two passes and broke up another.
Tyler Amaral showed off his impressive leg connecting for a 38-yard field goal early in the game’s final 12 minutes.
The Bulldogs remained poised and consecutive plays resulted in successive first downs, a 15-yard reception by Brown-Richardson and 11-yard quarterback keeper by Blanding, but an inopportune fumble ended the drive.
What it means: It was an impressive victory for the Tarpons as they attempt to return to the postseason, starting their year with a win heading into this week’s matchup with Fort Myers.
DeSoto, which looked strong during the first half, will reload and work on its conditioning heading into Week 2.
Quotes: “We made a lot of mistakes, our front seven defensively was real physical, they came out and did what I though they would do tonight,” said Binky Waldrop, Charlotte Tarpons football coach. “Our linebackers were incredible, they played fast. Our defensive line was great. We have a very good defense. Tavy (Kelly) did a great job. We’re slowly getting our players back. It was a hot night for us to play, and we’re getting in game shape. We got out unscathed. I’m happy.”
“We fought, we have 24 guys, 10 upperclassmen, so we had 14 sophomores on the field,” said Bumper Hay, DeSoto County Bulldogs football coach. “Some of the guys didn’t know where they needed to lineup. Mental mistakes, getting tied, one of my biggest concerns was getting tired. The first time in a game situation. You can get as fit as you want to, but you can’t get in game shape.”