KENTWOOD — Top-seeded Kentwood went into Friday’s Class 1A regional against Oberlin looking to hone the other half of its offensive package. And star quarterback Shyheim Carter and the Roos offense delivered a withering aerial assault.
Carter, always dangerous running the football, was the game’s top rusher with 107 yards on just three carries with two long touchdown runs. But on this night, he was also nearly flawless in the passing game, going 19-for-22 for 295 yards and two more touchdowns as the Roos rolled to a 40-16 victory over the visiting Tigers.
Oberlin coach Ronnie Simmons found no flaws in Kentwood’s No. 1 seeding.
“They’re the best team we’ve played all year,” Simmons said. “Their team speed is the best we’ve seen.”
As a result, Kentwood (10-1) moves on to the quarterfinals next Friday night against the Logansport-Elton winner. And the Roos’ quest to get back to the Dome for the state finals was enhanced with Friday’s performance, in which an already dangerous offense got a little scarier.
“I think that’s the best (passing performance) probably in Kentwood history, and that’s what we wanted to come out and work on tonight was our passing game,” Kentwood coach Jonathan Foster said of Carter, who didn’t set a school yardage record but definitely had one of the top completion percentage games in the Kangaroos’ storied history.
“We know he can run the ball; we know what we can do, what type of player he is,” Foster said. “But the one area he can improve on to make the team better is our passing. When people want to just stop our run game, we want to be able to pass the ball.”
Kentwood certainly did that against Oberlin, storming to a 40-0 halftime lead. Carter got it started with a 61-yard touchdown run moments after an interception by Trey Palmer gave the Roos the ball at their own 32.
The Roos defense stopped the Tigers (5-7) on downs at the Kentwood 47, and Carter hit a pair of passes before keeping on a 29-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 with 3:13 left in the first period.
The Kentwood defense then got on the board when Brendon Holmes came out of a scrum with a fumble and returned it 24 yards to make it 21-0 after Jacoby White kicked his third straight PAT.
And after Palmer recovered an Oberlin fumble at the Tigers’ 28, Carter hit three straight short passes before Kyvan Trout slipped in from 5 yards out to make it 27-0 after one period.
Kentwood then went 70 yards in five plays to pad the lead, with Carter hitting four straight passes, including a 30-yarder to Larry Carter, and then went back to Carter for a 29-yard TD pass.
“They’ve got athletes all over the field; it’s hard to key on one guy,” Simmons said. “When you have to cover five receivers and the quarterback’s as good as they have, it’s tough to stop. We had guys in the right spots, but there’s a reason why he’s a D-I athlete.”
Kentwood completed its assault when Shyheim Carter hit Jaleel Hampton with a short pass, and Hampton broke a tackle and went 38 yards to make it 40-0 with 1:16 left in the opening half.
With Kentwood playing all backups after intermission, Oberlin got its wing-T attack cranked up in the second half, rushing for 189 of its 235 rushing yards.
The Tigers got a 21-yard touchdown keeper from quarterback James Kirklin II and an 18-yard touchdown sweep by Kaylup Wilson. Kirklin, who led the Tigers with 14 carries for 80 yards, threw two-point conversion passes to Dane Clark and Jeremy Fontenot to account for the other Oberlin points.