Senators can't pull another comeback out of their hat
RENO - Carson coach Blair Roman didn't pull any punches.
"We didn't deserve to win," Roman said. "We had 12 or 13 penalties and gave up four sacks. Give Damonte credit. They had a great game plan, and (Drew) Smith ran hard and they controlled the ball. They deserved to win. Hopefully we'll learn from tonight.
"Maybe it was attitude (too cocky) after last week. Given the way we lost, you want to get back out there and play next week."
Instead, the Senators will have the bitter taste of Friday's 17-14 loss in their mouths for two weeks because they have a bye next Friday before returning on Oct. 12 to play at Galena, a 57-43 winner over Douglas.
This one came down to the very end.
Grant Cooper snapped a 14-all tie with a 31-yard field goal with 1:32 to play, but no doubt the Senators weren't panicking. After all, the Senators had rallied late for wins over Reno and Reed.
The final drive didn't get off to a promising start, as Garrett Schafer was sacked for losses of 8 and 3 yards, respectively. The first one was Schafer's in ability to throw the ball away. He had no chance on the second one.
On third down, Schafer found Joey Thurman over the middle for 44 yards and a first down at midfield. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Schafer tried to throw it to Andrew Gutierrez over the middle, however Zach Ewert was called for pass interference, giving Carson a first down at the 35. After two incomplete passes, Carson took a timeout.
Following a 5-yard procedure penalty, Schafer threw a short pass to Colby Brown, who turned it into a 20-yard gain down to the Damonte 23. After Schafer spiked the ball, Carson was hit with a delay penalty.
Schafer tried to connect with Matt Nolan in the end zone to no avail, and Casey Wolfe was brought into try a 45-yard field goal. He had plenty of leg, but missed left by a couple of feet, and Galena ran out the final 1.2 seconds.
It was Wolfe's second miss of the game. Earlier, he missed a 46-yarder, also to the left.
"That was my fault," Roman said about the delay of game penalty. "I just didn't get the play in on time."
This loss will no doubt leaving Carson's players and coaches scratching their heads.
The Senators outgained Damonte 336-186, and 80 of those yards came on the Mustangs' game-opening drive. After that first drive, Carson only gave up seven first downs the rest of the contest, and one of those came on a pass interference call against Dexter Cummings. Smith, who was averaging nearly 200 yards a contest, was held to 94 yards on 27 carries.
"They took it to us pretty good in the first half," Roman said.
Especially the game-opening drive when the Mustangs used 7-minutes and 5-seconds to drive 80 yards in 14 plays. Smith capped the drive with a 4-yard scoring run on a fourth-and-1 play.
Damonte converted two third-down plays, both by Smith, to keep the drive rolling. Cooper had a key 11-yard reception for a first down at the Carson 16. After that, it was mostly Smith. The Damonte star had gains of 1 and 9 before scoring.
Carson bounced right back with an 81-yard scoring drive that was capped by Colby Brown's 22-yard scoring run. Wolfe added the PAT, tying the game at 7 with 55 seconds left in a lightning quick first quarter. Schafer had passes of 24 yards to Luke Maher and 11 to Matt Nolan.
The tie and the momentum didn't last long, 14 seconds to be exact.
Wolfe mishit the ensuing kick-off, sending it careening off the turf. Smith picked the ball up at the 6, and outraced the Carson coverage team for a 94-yard score. Cooper's PAT made it 14-7.
"That was the key to the game," Roman said. "We had gained the momentum, and that drive took it away from us and gave it back to Damonte."
Carson had a couple of chances to score in the first half, but came up empty.
On fourth-and-1 from the Damonte 28, Schafer underthrew a receiver. On the next possession, Carson drove to Damonte's 15, but on fourth-and-9, Schafer was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Connor Raglen. Each time Carson opted to not try a field goal.
It wasn't until the latter stages of the third quarter that Carson's offense got untracked again.
The Senators drove 83 yards in 14 plays and two penalties to tie the game at 14 when Nolan threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Maher. The 6-foot-4 Maher had no trouble outreaching Damonte's Robert Carmazzi for the score. Wolfe added the PAT.
Carson is now 4-2 on the year and 0-1 in the Sierra League.