FLORENCE, S.C. – The Carolina Havoc was not just playoff ready, but playoff dominant.
Coach Anson Yarborough’s team converted three first-half turnovers into touchdowns and won 60-22 against Cape Fear in Tuesday’s first round of the American Arena League playoffs at the Florence Center.
“That was huge,” Yarborough said. “The momentum swung early in the game, and that’s exactly what we needed. The defense stepped up and played Havoc football. And when we play Havoc football, we’re going to be fine.”
Offensively, Havoc quarterback Jesse Scroggins was just as effective, passing for three touchdowns and rushing for two more in the first half. And in the second half, backup Daryll Clark rushed for a TD and passed for another.
“Jesse Scroggins is the man,” Yarborough said. “We also have another good one in (Clark). I can’t be more proud of them; they’re good at what they do. They’re the two best quarterbacks in the league if you ask me. As long as they’re hot, we’re hot.”
Next up for the reigning league champion Havoc is a second-round game 4 p.m. Sunday at the Carolina Energy. The Energy won 52-29 in the regular-season meeting.
“Our defense has to step up,” Yarborough said. “We have to stop their high-powered running attack. And if we stop that, we have to worry about defending their top receiver. If we defend those two things well, we’ll be fine.”
For Tuesday, after edging the Heroes 60-59 in the season opener, Yarborough pledged his secondary would be better prepared for Cape Fear’s passing attack. That was no more evident than when the game was tied at 7 and a Heroes drive was thwarted by an interception in the end zone by Shyhem Simpson. That set up a TD pass from Jesse Scroggins to Marques Pair, and Carolina led 13-7.
After the Heroes scored on the first quarter’s final play to reclaim the lead at 14-13, Scroggins – who scored the Havoc’s first TD on a run – added another rushing score to make it 20-14.
Carolina’s Ethan Farmer then recovered a fumble, setting up a scoring pass from Scroggins to Rashaad Carter for a 26-14 lead. After Cape Fear recorded a safety, Scroggins and Carter connected again for a TD and 32-16 advantage.
Carolina’s Kevin Weber added an uno (58-yard kickoff through the uprights), and teammate Christian Russell scored on a fumble return right before halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Clark added a rushing score to make it 46-16.
And Tre Long became the latest Havoc receiver to score, pulling in a Clark TD pass for a 53-16 advantage.
It almost seemed fitting, near game’s end, when Simpson picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown of his own for a 60-16 advantage.