CAIRO — What a difference a week makes.

After struggling in its preseason scrimmage against Colquitt County last week, Cairo looked like a different football team in its season opener against Osborne. The Syrupmakers trounced the Cardinals 30-0 at West Thomas Stadium on Friday.

Against the Packers on Aug. 24, Cairo was able to churn out only 18 rushing yards on 17 carries. However, against the Cardinals from Marietta, Cairo’s running game was clicking on all cylinders. The Syrupmakers turned out 322 yards on 39 carries, paced by Chris Teal’s 116.

“We came out and that first half we seemed like we were going to be able to put a lot of points on the board,” Cairo coach Tom Fallaw said.

Cairo’s offense was sharp early when the Syrupmakers marched 46 yards for a score in less than a minute after forcing an Osborne punt. Sophomore running back Reginald Bryant bulled his way for 22 yards on Cairo’s first two offensive plays. The two runs set up the play-action passing game, when Mike McGhee found Johnathan Bryant for eight yards and then on a third-and-16, hit a wide open Bradlyn Anderson for a 30-yard touchdown.

“Mike does a good job on play fakes,” Fallaw said. “He’s still trying to recover from his shoulder injury. We’re proud of the effort he’s giving us and he did a good job tonight.”

McGhee completed 4-of-5 passes for 64 yards, with all his attempts coming on play action. The senior also ran in a two-point conversion on a bootleg.

The Syrupmakers’ offense picked up where it left off after Allen Hopkins intercepted a deflected pass at the Osborne 39. Cairo defensive back Xavier Jordan leveled Cornelias Baker as the Cardinal receiver was attempting to make the catch, popping the ball up where Hopkins made a diving grab. Junior running back Maurice Brown showed his quickness on a 22-yard sweep to push Cairo into scoring position. However, the Syrupmaker drive stalled inside the five when Teal’s leap for the end zone on fourth-and-goal led to a fumble on the goal line.

Teal, though, would later produce the night’s biggest play when he turned a quarterback choice into a 70-yard touchdown run when he busted through a wide-open hole up the middle.

Penalties helped to limit the Syrupmakers’ offensive output. Cairo was whistled for 16 penalties on the night for 135 yards, including six holds and six illegal procedures.

“It goes back to what I’ve been saying the past couple weeks that is was going to be messy early,” Fallaw said. “I don’t want it to come true, but it looks like it is. We have to do something to overcome those. We’ve got to figure out how to cut down on our mistakes, come together and be a little better football team than we are right now.”

Cairo’s defense wasn’t messy, though. The Syrupmakers held the Cardinals to just 13 rushing yards and allowed only 98 passing yards on 25 attempts. Cairo also picked off four passes, with Brown, Jordan and Johnathan Bryant joining Hopkins in intercepting Derrick Anderson.

“They’re probably in the same boat as we are on offense,” Fallaw said. “They weren’t as crisp as we’ve seen them on film before. Our defense did a good job, but I think some of it is that everybody’s offense is a little behind their defense right now.”

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