ELKHART — Dominic Davis compared the gaping holes his offensive line opened for him to “straight up like the Grand Canyon at times.”
Those Grand Canyon-like seams helped produce a grand show by Davis, who tied a school record with six touchdowns and rushed for 245 yards in Elkhart Central’s 41-0 high school football victory over Benton Harbor on homecoming night Friday at Rice Field.
“I can’t say I envisioned six touchdowns, but I did envision doing better tonight, getting a few touchdowns, getting more touches,” Davis said. “Normally, when I touch the ball, good things happen, so I was hoping I could do a lot with this chance. I got lucky.”
This chance came by virtue of usual Blue Blazer featured running back Mark Brownlee — the state’s leading rusher going into Friday — missing the game under IHSAA rules after being ejected last week. Linebacker Drew Stimac, Central’s No. 2 tackler on the season going in, sat out for the same reason.
Those absences, though, never slowed down the Class 5A No. 7-ranked Blazers, who improved to 4-0 for the first time since beginning the 2004 season 6-0.
“Obviously, we want those guys out here — they’re amazing players,” Davis said of his missing mates, “but we know as a team if we lose one or two players, that’s not our whole team. We still have 11 on the field. It hurts, because they’re phenomenal, but it’s still a team game and we knew we could still do great things.”
Davis did the greatest things of all, at least statistically.
His 245 yards — Brownlee averages 238 — came on 21 carries over the first three quarters, and his six TDs matched the Central standard set by Demarco Taylor in 1993 and tied by Joe Phillips in 2014.
“He was electric,” Blazer coach Josh Shattuck said of Davis, who is a mere 5-foot-5, 145 pounds and who entered the night with 152 yards on just 14 carries. “Our biggest dilemma is we’ve got him and we’ve got Brownlee, and we’ve got one football. It’s just hard to get them both the ball all the time, but Dom’s a unique player. He’s shifty, he’s strong, and with the movement our offensive line gets, he’s hard to put on the ground.”
Added Shattuck with a grin, “Mark Brownlee is still our No. 1 running back … there’s no running back controversy.”
Central rolled to a 27-0 lead by halftime and to its 41-0 spread by the 5:31 mark of the third quarter, setting a running clock in motion the rest of the way.
Davis’ scoring scampers came from 56, 44, 30, 10, 14 and 5 yards.
The Blazer defense held the Tigers (1-2) to just two first downs and 50 total yards in the first half, with Michael Echartea adding an interception.
The Central offense had 214 yards by halftime and 369 for the game, with no turnovers.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” Shattuck said. “They gave a great effort in a really clean high school football game. We played really good complementary football — great defense and we ran the ball. We would like to throw a little more, but the bottom line is if you can run the ball and you can get stops, you’re going to control games, and that’s where we’re at right now heading into conference.”
The Blazers visit South Bend St. Joseph next Friday for their Northern Indiana Conference North Division opener.
They’ll do so coming off just the program’s second shutout in its last 68 games, covering parts of the last seven seasons. The other was 19-0 over Goshen in last fall’s sectional semifinals.
“Realistically, our defense has been close to pitching shutouts a couple other times,” said Shattuck, whose club allowed a combined 10 points to Goshen and Jimtown during Weeks 2 and 3. “We got a big fourth-quarter fumble recovery (from Jake Trease) to help get it tonight, but really, every game so far, our defense has given up very little in terms of both ball movement and points.”
ELKHART CENTRAL 41, BENTON HARBOR 0
Scoring By Quarters
EC — Dominic Davis 56 run; Elijah Harris kick; 7:40.
EC — Davis 44 run; Harris kick; 3:07.
EC — Davis 30 run; Harris kick; 7:14.
EC — Davis 10 run; kick failed; 2:11.
EC — Davis 14 run; Harris kick; 9:09.
EC — Davis 5 run; Harris kick; 5:31.
Benton Harbor: Rushing — Eric Johnson 12-49, Malachi Dezale 2-12, Antonio Moore 2-12, Ronald Roseburgh 5-11, Quindarius Davis 6-10, Michael Kirby 1-9. Passing — Davis 0-10-0 (1 int.), Tyler Meeks 0-1-0.
Elkhart Central: Rushing — Dominic Davis 21-245, Kennath Davis 9-45, Cameron Wiltfong 3-24. Passing — Isaiah Chandler 6-10-57. Receiving — Roderick Ballard 3-34, Devon Billings 2-15, Markus Vanderzwaag 1-8. Interception — Michael Echartea. Fumble recovery — Jake Trease.