If Carson High was one thing Friday night it was opportunistic.
The Senators took advantage of a short field to score 24 of their points en route to a 57-14 win over visiting Spanish Springs in a Northern 4A football game.
Carson, which again played without running back Dylan Sawyers, remained perfect in 4A play with a 6-0 record (6-1 overall). Spanish Springs fell to 3-5.
"We did take advantage (of our opportunities)," said Carson coach Blair Roman. "Our No. 1 goal was to take care of the ball, and outside of a fumble in the fourth quarter, we did that. This was a good win for us.
"His (star running back Conrad Tanyi's) absence hurt coach (Scott) Hare. He's a load. It obviously made them one-dimensional in terms of play calling."
And obviously easier to defend. Spanish Springs' only offensive touchdown came against Carson's second string, and the Senators intercepted three passes leading to 17 Carson points. Spanish Springs' second score came on a fumble return.
"It's tough to replace the 30 carries we get from Conrad," Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. "We had a week to prepare to play without him. It's tough to piece together something in a week, though."
A fumbled punt by Vance Lively led to Carson's first score, a 9-yard pass from Matt Nolan to Brock Pradere in the left corner of the end zone. The play was identical to the one Carson ran last week against Damonte Ranch. Austin Pacheco's PAT made it 7-0.
"We work a lot on that fade route after practice," said Pradere, who finished with four catches for 118 yards.
After the teams exchanged punts, Carson's defense stepped up.
Spanish Springs had drove down to Carson's 30 when QB Hunter Fralick threw one in the flat toward Lively. Pacheco jumped the route, picked the ball off at the Carson 16 and returned it down to the Spanish Springs 27.
"They were running quick out routes about every other play," Pacheco said. "We were keying on Lively. I read the quarterback's eyes and jumped the route."
Andrew Gutierrez gained 12 yards down to the 8, but the Cougars held, forcing Pacheco to kick a 24-yard field goal to give Carson a 10-0 lead with 13 seconds left in the first quarter.
A 17-yard punt by Andrew Rose set up Carson's next score.
The Senators took over at the Cougars' 44 and drove down to the 7 before the drive bogged down, forcing Pacheco to kick the second of his three 24-yard field goals for a 13-0 lead with 8:32 left in the half.
After Spanish Springs went three and out, the Senators had prime field position at their own 48, and this time didn't settle for a field goal.
On third-and-8 from midfield, Nolan and Chance Quilling hooked up for a 37-yard gain down to the 13. Pacheco gained 12 on a sweep around the right side, and Nolan scored on a quarterback sneak for a 19-0 lead with 5:27 left.
Carson would go on to tack on 10 more points to end the first half with a 29-0 lead.
The first score came after the Senators stopped the Cougars for a 2-yard loss at the Carson 21.
Five plays later, Carson was in the endzone thanks to Nolan's elusiveness and Quilling's open-field running.
A 39-yard pass from Nolan to Pradere gave Carson a first down at the Spanish Springs 36. Two plays later, Nolan rolled out and checked down to his third receiver which happened to be Quilling. The Carson senior broke one tackle near the line of scrimmage, broke to the right and outraced the Cougars' defense to the end zone.
"Brock wasn't open and Luke wasn't open," Nolan said. "I was surprised he went all the way. I thought they had him near the line of scrimmage, but he broke the tackle and took off. It was a good run."
"It was a phenomenal run (by Chance)," Roman said. "It was one of the plays of the game."
Nolan was praised heavily by Roman. The Carson junior completed 10 of 14 passes for 244 yards and three scores.
"I was really pleased with how Matt Nolan played," Roman said. "Spanish Springs was stopping our off-tackle plays and we had to adjust. Matt made things happen out there."
"We opened up the passing game," Nolan said. "I thought I threw the ball well. I have some great receivers who made some big plays."
Carson wasn't through, however.
Pradere stepped in front of a Fralick pass at the Carson 26 and took it back to the Spanish Springs 46-yard line with 15 seconds left.
On the ensuing play, Pradere pulled down a 39-yard pass from Nolan for a first down. Pacheco kicked his third 24-yard field goal of the game to make it 29-0.
If Quilling's TD catch and run didn't deflate the Cougars' that last field goal probably did.
Carson's special teams got into the act early in the third quarter when Pacheco returned a punt 40 yards for a score. He added the PAT to make it 36-0.
Spanish Springs drove to Carson's 37 on the next drive, but turned it over on downs.
Carson drove 63 yards on 11 plays with Gutierrez covering the final 23 on a pass from Nolan which made it 43-0.
Spanish Springs scored two touchdowns to make it 43-14, but the Senators closed out the scoring on Sage Smith's 36-yard interception return and a 13-yard run by Quilling, who rushed for 72 yards.
Quilling was hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty on the play for allegedly swearing at a Spanish Springs player, and since it was his second unsportsmanlike of the game, he was ejected. He is expected to have to sit out the Galena game on Thursday.