Central celebrated the 50th anniversary of its move to Harrison from downtown Chattanooga during Friday night's pregame ceremony, but it was Baylor School that quickly spoiled the festivities and ran away with the victory celebration.
On the back of a 42-point first quarter, the Red Raiders defeated the Purple Pounders 52-7 to improve to 4-0 for the season.
"It was important for us to come out fast tonight, and we need to keep the momentum going forward the next few weeks in the region," Baylor coach Phillip Massey said, proud of how his team played in all three phases. "I wanted our guys to finish, whether on a drive or on defense or special teams, and we did that."
Baylor wasted no time unleashing its balanced offense upon Central (1-3) , keeping the home team on its heels all night. On the Red Raiders' very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Neyland Jean connected with receiver Gabriel Stulce on a 55-yard bomb for a first touchdown. After a quick four-and-out by the Central offense, Baylor returner Riley Jenne dashed through multiple Pounders during a 49-yard punt return to bring the score to 14-0.
After the two quick scores, Baylor running back Elijah Howard made his presence known on both offense and special teams. Howard was involved on the three ensuing scores — a 1-yard dive up the middle, a 5-yard dash off tackle and a 47-yard punt return — all in the first quarter as well.
"Elijah's a very explosive athlete," Massey said about his dynamic running back. "He's the type of player that at any moment can break a play. Defenses have to try and prepare for that type of kid."
With a touchdown from a quick 15-yard sweep by Baylor receiver Jeremiah Skipworth, the Red Raiders were in a good enough position to put in the second team and allow the clock to run down for the entire second half.
Despite the difference in the final score, Central coach Curt Jones praised the competitiveness of his team.
"When you play a team the caliber of a Baylor, you are going to have to give your best effort," Jones said. "We are young, and when they scored early I think we got a little bit shell-shocked. We made some action on the fumble return (by Central's Marquis Ray), found some confidence, but we just have to get past the mistakes."
Central will host region opponent East Hamilton next week, while Baylor travels to Nashville to do battle with Ensworth.
Contact Justin Dempsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.