Ten years ago, Carson High might have considered Friday’s heartbreaking 47-39 regional-final loss to Reed a moral victory.
Not this group. This is one group that doesn’t believe in moral victories. Close doesn’t count. Carson players will take little solace in knowing that they only lost by eight points compared to 38 back on Sept. 27 to the three-time regional champs.
The Senators know that this was one game, that with one more defensive stop or being able to cash in on red-zone opportunities, the outcome could have been very different. Carson could be hosting Liberty instead of Reed next Saturday.
That first game was decided when Reed scored 36 unanswered points in the third quarter to break open a tight 21-19 game. This time, it was a serious of first-half plays that led to a 16-0 Reed surge and put Carson in a hole which forced the Senators to play uphill the entire second half.
Carson, which wanted to control the ball to keep Reed’s offense off the field, executed its game plan flawlessly on its opening drive. Mixing passes to Alan Cohen and Dilyn Rooker around the running of Joey Thurman and Nevin Elliott, Carson drove the ball inside Reed’s 10, but came up empty when the hold went awry, and Cody Cunningham missed a 26-yard field goal.
The second group of bad first-half plays came midway through the second quarter after Reed had gone ahead 14-10 after a 13-yard scoring run Jordan DeLeon.
Andrew Gutierrez dropped to his knee at the 6 to catch the kick-off which killed the play immediately and put Carson in a deep hole. After three plays failed to net a first down, CHS punter Stefan Sobkiewicz, in an effort to catch Cunningham’s low snap, dropped to his knee in the end zone which resulted in a safety and a 16-10 lead for Reed.
Sobkiewicz didn’t feel his knee had touched the ground, but instant replay on the taped broadcast Saturday showed that his knee did indeed hit the turf. Reed took the ensuing kick-off and drove 59 yards to go up 23-10.
Perhaps the most back-breaking drive of the game came right before the half after Carson had cut the lead to 23-17 with 24.7 seconds left. Carson went to a prevent defense on the next series, and Reed drove down for a field goal and a 26-17 lead at the half.
From there, it was essentially an even game, as neither defense could get any stops. Each team scored three times in the second half.
“We had to make a couple of adjustments to what they were doing (in the first half),” Carson coach Blair Roman said.
“We knew that they were going left,” Reed defensive lineman Cody Carr told the Sparks Tribune. “They just had so many bodies out there. We knew we could use the sideline for help, and we couldn’t stop it. They ran that stuff well.”
ELLIOTT SHINES: Nevin Elliott made his last high school game a good one. Elliott carried 27 times for 116 yards and two scores. Elliott ended up with 1,034 yards rushing and 16 rushing touchdowns.
He had five games of 100 yards or more rushing, including three straight in the post-season.
Elliott played the latter part of the season with a torn meniscus which will require off-season arthroscopic surgery.