September 28, 2013

Rhodes’ responses lead Cats to win

Devin Golden

CARTERSVILLE — When a response was needed Friday, Dalton High School’s offense gave one every time.

Cass, though, had no answer for Kelvis Rhodes.

The Catamounts’ junior running back scored four touchdowns — with two coming on possessions that followed scores by Cass — and Dalton improved to 2-2 this season with a 30-17 win at Cass’ Doug Cochran Stadium.

The Cats led 20-9 at halftime, but the Colonels (2-3) started the second half with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 40-yard screen pass from Trevor Lowe to Chris Morton. A two-point conversion from Chaz Rokins made it a 20-17 game with 7:13 left in the third quarter.

Dalton answered in four plays.

The second play was a 48-yard run from Rhodes, who gained 122 yards on 18 carries, and he finished the drive with a 4-yard score at the 5:31 mark of the third quarter.

“This game is not just about how well you do on one drive or play,” Dalton coach Matt Land said. “It’s about responding to adversity, and we did that tonight.”

That wasn’t the first time the Cats had to follow up a score from the Colonels. Ahead 7-3 in the second quarter, Dalton tried a reverse on third down from its 18-yard line, but Cass’ Justin Reed intercepted the reverse pitch and returned it for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, giving the Colonels a 9-7 lead with 7:49 before halftime.

The Cats’ next drive went 68 yards in nine plays, and Rhodes scored from 4 yards out with 3:08 on the clock. The extra point was no good, and Dalton led 13-9.

“We knew we had to keep driving and putting points on the board,” Dalton junior quarterback Payton Veraldi said.

The Cats did just that.

Cass fumbled on its next possession — one of two lost fumbles in the first half for the Colonels — and Rhodes scored again from 2 yards out with 30 seconds remaining before halftime.

During the drive, sophomore quarterback Jase Chastain suffered a leg injury and was taken out of the stadium on a stretcher. He did not return.

Depending on the injury’s severity, Veraldi could be the only quarterback used when Dalton begins Sub-region 7B-4A play next Friday against Ridgeland. Dalton has used Chastain and Veraldi at quarterback in every game so far this season. The two rotated possessions Friday until Chastain was injured.

Veraldi finished the game 5 of 6 passing for 56 yards. Chastain finished 2 of 3 for 98 yards and one touchdown, a 70-yard screen pass to Rhodes. The score gave the Cats a 7-3 lead with 9:49 left in the second quarter.

Dalton gained 390 yards on offense but had nine penalties and one turnover, a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Cass gained 298 yards, with 193 coming on the ground.

“I’m so upset at the fact we had too many missed tackles and penalties,” Land said.

Cass’ first possession ended with a 45-yard field goal from Pablo Delores with 1:36 left in the first quarter.

He missed a 44-yard attempt in the final minute of the third quarter that would have cut Dalton’s lead to 27-20.

The Cats finished the scoring with Kiko Rodriguez’s 18-yard field goal with 1:18 left in the game. Eder Mora’s interception on the previous Cass possession set it up. Mora also rushed for 81 yards on 10 carries.