FORT MYERS — It was all backflips and cartwheels Friday night as Charlotte scored 42 unanswered en route to a 49-8 road win over Riverdale.
Almost mirroring its start against Fort Myers, Charlotte got off to a blazing start, scoring 13 points before the Raiders touched the ball.
Charlotte took control immediately with a 73-yard touchdown pass from junior John Busha to senior Jeremiah Harvey. Harvey took a quick hitch and danced around a handful of Raiders for the score.
The Tarpons then got a perfect bounce on a pooch kick, which bounced into Charlotte’s waiting hands to set up a short drive. It was capped by a 15-yard rushing touchdown by Busha to make it 13-0 in under two minutes.
From there the Tarpons continued to cruise, outgaining Riverdale, 268-62, in the first half despite running one less offensive play.
Key plays: Already holding a 13-0 lead, Charlotte forced a three-and-out on Riverdale’s first offensive drive. The snap sailed over the Riverdale punter’s head and was eventually scooped up by Charlotte’s Logan Pritchard for the touchdown.
Busha continued his strong first half with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Fletcher to make it 27-0 with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
Senior running back Tai’viahn Kelly also scored on a 1-yard run with 9:19 left in the second quarter.
The half ended with a string of long runs for Ashar Thomas. The speedy back carried the ball five times for 71 yards and a score on the Tarpon’s final drive of the half.
Charlotte scored just once in the second half, a 44-yard run from Jay Arias. Kicker Tyler Amaral was 6 for 6 on extra points.
Riverdale, playing without starting running back Raekwon Clark, did get on the board late with a 19-yard quarterback draw from Billy Donahue with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with 66 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Key stats: Thomas led the Tarpons in rushing with 71 yards followed by Arias with the one 44-yard rush and Busha with 42 yards on five carries. Kelly finished with 35 on nine carries.
Busha finished 3 for 3 for 121 yards passing and three total touchdowns.
The Tarpons averaged 11.7 yards per play in the first half on 23 plays with the starters. The Tarpon defense gave up just 68 yards on 22 runs in the first half and 200 on 38 carries for the game.
With the fumble recovery in the end zone, Charlotte now has eight forced turnovers in three games.
What it means: It’s pretty simple, the Tarpons are pretty darn good. Though things change year to year, in two weeks they have beaten two former 10-win teams a combined 91-22. They continue next week against another 2018 playoff team in Braden River.
What they said: “Every one got a piece of it, which I was happy to see,” Charlotte coach Binky Waldrop said. “We have to start just as fast next week in our first district game against a very talented team.”
“We’re feeling really good,” Charlotte quarterback John Busha said. “We’re pretty comfortable right now. Everybody knows the plays and we can just kind of relax and do our thing.”