CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland quarterback Austin Herink admitted that a Twitter war between his Blue Raiders and rival Walker Valley leading up to Friday's game helped focus his team, although he chose to stay out of the tweet battle.
After Friday's performance, he would need a lot more than 140 characters, anyway.
Herink and tailback C.J. Bryant spearheaded a first-half assault of 324 yards of total offense and 42 points. The Raiders were able to cruise in the second half to a 56-28 victory over the previously undefeated visitors.
Herink threw for 219 yards -- all but 3 in the first half -- while Bryant rushed for 81 yards, including 55 for the game's first touchdown. Receiver D.J. Jones caught four passes for 139 yards and three scores as Cleveland held a 35-point lead at halftime, envoking a second-half mercy rule and improving to 2-0 in District 5-AAA.
"We just came out on fire, unlike we ever had before," Herink said. "We had a great week of preparation leading up to this game, and the guys were focused.
"I've never done this before, but I left my phone at home today so I could just be of clear, sound mind coming in. Both teams had been talking on Twitter and it really focused some of the guys. They wanted to smack [the Mustangs] in the mouth."
Raekwon Bunion scored from 5 yards out in the second half, and Jake Gibson passed to Rod Dennard for the rest of the team's points.
"I highly recommend that we start games out like that," Cleveland coach Ron Crawford said. "We got the ball out in space and the guys made plays, and on defense we only gave up one score with our starters out there. Overall I'm pleased; these games are important to win. We've got two down in the district, but we've got four more and they all count for playoff positioning."
Cleveland intercepted quarterback Garrett Wallace three times, catching two more of his passes than the Mustangs. The visitors were held to 151 yards of total offense in the first half but ran for 133 in the final 24 minutes against a running clock and mostly Cleveland reserves.
Walker Valley's Justin Ware finished with 131 yards rushing and a score, caught a 49-yard touchdown pass for the Mustangs' lone first-half score and made an 84-yard kickoff return to account for three of the team's four touchdowns. Reggie Mills scored from 18 yards for the other.
"There was a lot of hype going into the ballgame, and it was a position a young team hasn't been in before," Walker Valley coach Glen Ryan said. "We got caught up in the hype a bit; maybe we didn't do as good a job of coaches at calming them down, but we did things not typical of our ball club and it snowballed from bad to worse.
"Hopefully we'll grow from this and learn from it."