Six Dalton turnovers gave Calhoun the victory.
A six-touchdown performance from sophomore running back Kelvis Rhodes gave the Catamounts a breakout star.
Rhodes scored five times in the first half and finished with 205 yards on 19 carries, but it wasn’t enough to overcome all of the giveaways by the Cats to the No. 1-ranked team in Class 2A. And the Yellow Jackets were more than happy to take advantage of the Dalton turnovers in a 55-41 victory on Friday night at Harmon Field.
“That’s part of football early in the year, and I was proud of our kids for hanging in there and winning this football game,” Calhoun coach Hal lamb said. “I thought our kids handled the pressure very well and grew up a little bit. We are still a young team and have a lot of work to do, but we are 2-0 on the year right now.”
While his team didn’t get the win, Dalton coach Matt Land saw enough positives to offset the negatives of the loss.
“We’ll ‘what-if’ it on Sunday when we are watching the film, but we didn’t get beat by a better team tonight. We beat ourselves,” Land said. “You can’t make the mistakes that we made and play with the good teams. This is a great Calhoun team, and our kids grew up tonight.
“I think we can look at ourselves and be proud of the things that we did, but we are going to be disappointed in some of the bonehead stuff that we did, too.”
It was the fourth straight victory in the series for the Yellow Jackets (2-0) and their second straight win over a Class 4A team to start the season after opening with a victory over Ridgeland last week in Calhoun.
A pair of gifts from Dalton (1-1) set the tone early to get the Yellow Jackets off on the right foot.
The Catamounts couldn't handle the pooch kick on the opening kickoff, letting the ball fall between two receivers before a swarm of Jackets recovered the live ball. Working with a short field, Calhoun couldn’t capitalize totally, settling for a 32-yard field goal from Jonah Gallman.
Dalton handled the ensuing kickoff, but three plays later an errant pitch by quarterback Cole Calfee was scooped up by Carter Edwards to give Calhoun the ball at the 10. Alex Urbano found his way to the end zone on the next play for a 10-0 lead with less than five minutes gone in the game.
But after both teams settled into the game, a scoring-fest broke out and fans of defense were left wanting their money back.
Kelvis Rhodes got Dalton on the scoreboard with the first of his touchdowns. The sophomore had 180 yards in the first half on touchdown runs of 22, 5, 50, 15 and 75 yards.
Calhoun's Andrew Haynes answered Rhodes' first touchdown with a 91-yard kickoff return to put Calhoun up 17-7, but then Rhodes really took over.
He scored with 2:25 left in the first quarter as Dalton reeled off 20 straight points to take a 27-17 lead with sophomore Edar Mora's punt block deep in Calhoun territory setting Rhodes up for his 15-yard run with 9:33 left in the first half.
But that wasn't nearly all for the opening half.
Calhoun responded with a 70-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard plunge from quarterback Taylor Lamb. Dalton answered with a three-play, 87-yard drive with Rhodes busting off a 75-yard scoring run.
Lamb finally started heating up and got Calhoun's spread offense on track, hitting Tydus Curtis on a pair of 20-plus gains in driving the Yellow Jackers 67 yards on five plays. Curtis' 22-yard catch and run capped off the drive, and kicker Jonah Gallman ran in a two-point conversion off of a botched snap.
The Yellow Jacket defense turned in its biggest play of the night with an interception by Haynes, and Calhoun took the lead back five plays later with Lamb rolling left, then tucking the ball and taking off right for a 25-yard scoring run to go up 39-34 at the end of the first half.
The offensive fireworks were fewer in the second half as both defenses settled in, but it was Dalton’s generosity that gave the Yellow Jackets the cushion they would need.
Calhoun took the opening possession of the second half and drove from their own 20, but stalled at midfield. However, Brandon Dale couldn’t field the punt when it took an awkward bounce on him, and Calhoun recovered at the Dalton 2 yard line. Urbano plunged in to score on the next play, and Brandon Blaylock would add a 42-yard field goal midway through the quarter to give Calhoun a 49-34 lead. Rhodes would score on a 1-yard run to cap off his night and pull Dalton to within 49-41, but the Cats couldn’t contain Lamb as he led the Yellow Jackets down the field for the clincher.
Score by Quarters
Calhoun 17 22 10 6 — 55
Dalton 14 20 0 7 — 41
How They Scored
C — Jonah Gallman 32 FG, 9:16
C — Alex Urbano 10 run (Gallman kick), 7:16
D — Kelvis Rhodes 22 run (Kiko Rodriguez kick), 6:14
C — Andrew Haynes 91 kickoff return (Gallman kick), 6:02
D — Rhodes 5 run (Rodriguez kick), 2:25
D — Rhodes 50 run (Rodriguez kick), 10:33
D — Rhodes 15 run (kick failed), 9:33
C — Taylor Lamb 1 run (Gallman kick), 5:35
D — Rhodes 75 run (Rodriguez kick), 3:50
C — Tydus Curtis 22 pass from Lamb (Gallman run), 2:11
C — Lamb 25 run (Gallman kick), 1:01
C — Alex Urbano 2 run (Gallman kick), 10:00
C — Brandon Blaylock 42 FG, 6:14
D — Rhodes 1 run (Rodriguez kick), 3:23
C — Urbano 13 pass from Lamb (kick failed), 1:01