SMITHFIELD — Opening up play in the Two Rivers 3A Conference on the road against Smithfield-Selma, Cleveland wasted little time in showing that they plan to be a factor in the conference championship race this season.
Isaac Martin rushed for two early scores and quarterback Aaron Farmer added a long 52-yard scamper to push the Rams out to a big lead early and Cleveland had little difficulty in posting a 42-0 win over Smithfield-Selma.
The Rams (4-3) were efficient on offense early. A three-play drive that spanned 61 yards was capped off by junior Aaron Farmer deciding to keep the ball on third-and-short and elude the Spartan defense for a 52-yard touchdown run that propelled Cleveland to a 7-0 lead after its first drive.
A fumble recovery turned in by the Rams defense set up Farmer and company in great field position and Cleveland needed just four plays to travel 38 yards before Issac Martin, who eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the season, ran it in from 17 yards out.
Another 13-yard Martin touchdown run, his 18th of the season, gave the Rams a 21-0 lead with 5:07 still remaining in the opening quarter.
The Spartan defense then stepped up to limit the Cleveland attack the rest of the first half. Big tackles from Leroy Hill and good coverage in the secondary by Raequan Smith prevented the Rams from tacking on any more points.
Smithfield-Selma received a spark in the form of kick returner A.J. Cannon, as three times the sophomore set the Spartans up in great position in Cleveland territory.
Cannon finished the game with 117 return yards.
A 7-yard connection between Spartan quarterback Chris Samuels and wide receiver Robert Hicks moved SSS (0-7) to the Cleveland 18-yard line late in the first quarter on the Spartans most promising drive of the opening half.
But the Cleveland defensive line held strong on fourth-and-two, dropping Smithfield-Selma for a loss to force a turnover on downs and stop the threat.
The Rams' defense forced four turnovers en route to pitching its second shutout in three games.
Farmer added to the lead early in the third quarter when he found Patrick Jesequel for a 24-yard touchdown pass to give Cleveland the 28-0 lead.
Corey Brown came on in relief to lead the Rams with 109 yards rushing and a pair of scores.
Farmer concluded his night with 123 yards in the air and 81 more on the ground.
Jamal Stancil hauled in four passes for 32 yards to lead Smithfield-Selma.