CAIRO — It was a special night Friday for the Cairo Syrupmakers, and especially sweet for head coach Tom Fallaw.
Fallaw won his 100th game as Cairo’s head coach, as the Syrupmakers advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs with a 24-13 victory over Riverdale at West Thomas Stadium.
“I’m more embarrassed by this than I am happy, all the stuff afterwards,” said Fallaw, who was presented the game ball at midfield following the game.
Fallaw’s 19th playoff win wasn’t easy. Cairo (9-2) trailed 7-6 at halftime following a late second-quarter touchdown pass by the Raiders (7-4) on a fourth-and-25 play.
Riverdale quarterback Asania Aderhold threw for 243 yards, including 125 to big receiver Rashad Canty. The two connected for a 61-yard pass in the first quarter. Canty also snagged a 51-yard strike to set up Riverdale’s first score.
Aderhold threw for two touchdowns, including a 52-yard strike to Trey Sanders.
But the Syrupmakers weathered Riverdale’s best shot and rallied to win.
“We did the same thing we did when we went into halftime against Thomas County Central,” Fallaw said. “We just told the kids that we made a decision against Thomas County Central at halftime that we were going to get good at what we do. If we lose doing it, then we lose doing it. ... You’ve got to give our kids a lot of credit, they persevered through a lot of stuff right there.”
Leading Cairo’s charge in the second half was senior running back/linebacker P.J. Davis. Following an injury on defense that forced Davis to the sideline, he returned to the field on offense, after Deonta Dismuke picked off a pass for the Syrupmakers. On the first play from Riverdale’s 45-yard line, Davis burst through the line, broke several would-be tackle attempts and rumbled to the end zone for a game-changing score.
“He definitely jump-started us,” Fallaw said. “Our offense did a good job of controlling the second half.”
Hill ran for 55 yards, highlighted by a 13-yard touchdown run for Cairo’s second score of the second half. Quarterback Donald Thomas’ pass to a wide-open Dismuke for a two-point conversion upped Cairo’s lead to 21-7.
Thomas combined for 84 yards, including a sensational 40-yard run in the waning moments to ice the victory.