By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — It would’ve been difficult to top his week one performance, but Charlotte High School’s Jayden Grant certainly tried.
The outside linebacker began the season with a pair of defensive touchdowns last week and came back Friday night with 3.5 sacks, two deflections, a tackle for a loss and a host of quarterback hurries in the Tarpons’ 51-34 win over Gibbs.
“Everybody just pushed each other to get better, and we came out on top,” Grant said. “We still have a lot to work on, but we’re just going to keep on doing what we do.”
Grant led a defensive unit which in the first half held the Gladiators to just three first downs and negative-nine rushing yards. His 3.5 sacks contributed to the total of nine Charlotte racked up.
“We sat (in the locker room) and stayed positive,” Waldrop said about the game which didn’t begin until 9:46 p.m. and end until 12:26 a.m.
“Thank goodness we were able to play the game. I’m happy the way we came out. We start games really well, so whatever we’re doing, we’re doing something right.”
Even with the lopsided 51-34 final score, Gibbs scored two touchdowns in the final minute to make it appear like a tighter game than it actually was.
“We made three mistakes that cost us touchdowns,” Waldrop said. “At the end of the game, the back ups were in, but I’m happy everyone got to play tonight. We have a lot of things to work on. We have a tough one next week.”
It wasn’t just the defense which improved from Charlotte’s 33-14 loss to Dunbar, the offense looked more cohesive as well.
In his second career start, not only was quarterback Alex Muse better – he completed 4 of 6 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 52 yards with two scores – but the offense around him was better also.
“He played a lot better (because) we caught the ball better, we blocked better, everything. We did better around him. I’m happy about that,” Waldrop said.
Running back Savorion Warren rushed for 150 yards on 14 carries and found the end zone twice, including a 46-yard score. And to top off his great defensive night, Grant also had a fourth-quarter 17-yard touchdown run.
CHARLOTTE 51, GIBBS 34
Gibbs 0 14 0 20 — 34
Charlotte 14 14 7 16 — 51
C — Andrew Grace 23 pass from Alex Muse (Noah Palmore kick), 9:28
C — Savorion Warren 46 run (Palmore kick), 5:48
C — Warren 3 run (Palmore kick), 5:59
G— Deonnte Brooks 66 pass from Cornelius Mckenzie (pass failed)
G — Joshua Mccrea 20 pass from Mckenzie (Mckenzie run), 0:58
C — Tai’Viahn Kelly 74 kick return (Palmore kick), 0:41
C — Muse 9 run (Palmore kick), 6:40
C — Safety, 11:55
C — Muse 5 run (Palmore kick), 8:34
G — Brooks 74 pass from Mckenzie, 7:28
C — Jayden Grant 17 run (Palmore kick), 3:00
G — Mccrea 32 pass from Mckenzie (Malachi pass from Mckenzie), 0:52
G — Malachi 11 pass from Mckenzie (pass failed), 0:01
First Downs 6 14
Rushes/yds 17-1 42-285
Passing yds 342 42
C-A-I 15-23-0 5-7-0
Fumbles/lost 3-0 3-1
Penalties/yds 9-82 5-55
Rushing: Gibbs: Deonnte Brooks 1-23, Germain Chappell 1-(-1), Joshua Mccrea 2-(-8), Cornelius Mckenzie 13-(-12). Charlotte: Savorion Warren 14-150-2, Alex Muse 11-52-2, Jayden Grant 3-28-1. Andrew Grace 4-20, Jeremiah Harvey 2-28, Ny Harvey 6-12, Marcus Nelson 1-11, Anthony Squitieri 1-10.
Passing: Gibbs: Mckenzie 15-23-342-5. Charlotte: Muse 4-6-38-1, Squitieri 1-1-4-0
Receiving: Gibbs: Brooks 6-174-2, Deion Coleman 3-56, Mccrea 2-52-2, Malachi Davis 2-21, Chappell 2-17, Tim Bryant 1-2. Charlotte: Grace 1-23-1, N. Harvey 2-15, Isaiah Dareus 1-6, Grant 1-4, Jahden Joseph 1-3.