With former G.W. Carver quarterback and 2012 Alabama Mr. Football Jeremy Johnson at Auburn, it was going to be Draequon Murphy’s time to shine under center for one of the state’s powers.
But a nagging shoulder forced Murphy to change his role, back to wide receiver and defensive back, and he came through for the Wolverines as they defeated Robert E. Lee 19-0 on Friday.
Murphy’s 98-yard interception return for a touchdown was the nail in the coffin for Carver, helping keep its playoff hopes alive and earning a big region win against a city rival.
“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Murphy said. “And I felt like I had to make a play in a crucial moment.”
That wasn’t the only time Murphy was in the end zone. Mike McKenny hit Murphy slanting across the middle for a 16-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to give the Wolverines a two-score lead. Seven weeks in to the season, and four weeks at his new spot on the field, the Arkansas State commit is coming in to his own.
“The way we kind of sold him on everything, it’s almost what he’s going to do in college,” Carver coach Billy Gresham said. “Depends on what college gets him — right now he’s committed to Arkansas State — they’re going to have him all over the field. He did a great job at corner, made a great play on the ball. We always talk about finishing and he did a great job of finishing. Not just picking the ball, but able to get the ball in the end zone.”
The Carver defense shut down the Generals whenever they got close. Lee got inside Carver’s 30-yard line four times on Friday. Three times ended in interceptions, and the other was a missed 34-yard field goal attempt.
“(The defense) played tremendous,” Gresham said. “They’ve been playing great all year and those guys, they’re hungry. We talked to them when the offense was struggling, ‘You’ve got to go in and score. If you want to come out victorious or give yourself a chance in this game, let’s give the offense a little momentum, let’s score on the defensive side.’
“And those guys, they played very well tonight and gave us a little momentum heading in to a big game next week with Smiths Station. It’s a playoff situation for us week in and week out, and we’re up for the challenge.”
McKenny finished 14-for-22 passing for 118 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Carver running back Javante Davidson — who has emerged as the feature back the last few weeks — had 21 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Lee trailed 6-0 at the half, and looked poised to end Carver’s 16-game win streak over city teams and get its first victory over Carver since 2002.
Generals quarterback Anthony Hooks finished 15-for-27 for 133 yards, but his three interceptions proved too costly. Hooks also had 15 carries for 50 yards.
“Any time you’re in the situation where you have four turnovers to one, that makes it tough,” Lee coach Tyrone Rogers said. “Carver’s been doing a good job, but we thought we matched up well… I give credit to them. They made the turnovers. They made the plays they needed to make. We didn’t make the plays we needed to make. That was the determining factor to me.”