After a crushing defeat two weeks ago in Idaho, Carson High had plenty of time to lick its wounds and get ready for its Northern 4A opener against North Valleys.
The Senators, led by Dylan Sawyers' six touchdown runs and 204 yards rushing, erupted for 523 yards of total offense en route to a 45-0 win Friday night.
Sawyers scored on runs of 1,16,1, 11, 13 and 3 yards, respectively. It's the most in a single game by Sawyers. Throw in a defense which yielded just 43 yards on the ground and had a couple of good defensive stands, and you have a huge victory.
"This is absolutely what we needed," said Carson coach Blair Roman, whose team improved to 1-1. "The team we faced two weeks ago was darn good and could contend for a title. Our offensive line seemed to jell tonight. We wanted to see something positive from that group. That was key. It was a great effort tonight.
"Dylan did a great job. He's a senior and he wants to go out and perform. He played a little defense tonight, and he'll probably play some more next week. Dylan smiled tonight, and I haven't seen him smile like that in a long time."
It's no wonder Sawyers smiled. He ran inside and he ran outside. The Panthers' defense was no match.
"It's been a long time," said Sawyers, who had off-season surgery for a groin injury that forced him to miss several games in the middle of the season. "It's been a long few months, and I went through a whole lot of emotions while I was rehabbing. I wanted to get into the end zone.
"My moves (ability to cut) are almost 100 percent. I'm still a little out of shape, though. I thought my vision (ability to see holes) was a little sluggish against Highland. After two weeks of practice, it was good tonight."
After Andrew Fritter shanked a 21-yard field goal attempt on the Panthers' first drive, Sawyers essentially took over.
On Carson's third play from scrimmage, Sawyers broke loose for 62 yards all the way down to the North Valleys 17-yard-line. Three plays later Sawyers scored from the 1. Austin Pacheco's PAT made it 7-0 with 7:21 left.
The Senators scored on their next possession, driving 76 yards in eight plays with Sawyers capping the drive with a 16-yard run. Pacheco's PAT made it 14-0 with 1:21 remaining.
There were three key plays in the drive - a 32-yard shovel pass from Matt Nolan to Chance Quilling, a 12-yard run by Sawyers and a 13-yard run by Cole Dufresne.
North Valleys, starting from its own 8, got a 24-yard completion from Daniel Lewis to Jesse Krueger for a first down at the 31. However, Lewis fumbled the ensuing snap and Jeremy Vernon recovered the ball at the NV 26.
On the first play from scrimmage Nolan (10-for-12, 150 yards) completed a pass over the middle to Sawyers, who bolted down to the 3. A facemask penalty moved the ball to the 1. Sawyers punched it in on the next play as time expired in the quarter. Tight end Luke Maher caught a 2-point conversion pass from Austin Pacheco to make it 22-0, and the rout was on.
After the defense held the Panthers without a first down and forced a second punt, the Senators' offense sliced and diced the Panthers again.
Starting from his own 27, Nolan scrambled for 15 yards and then threw an 11-yard pass to Dufresne for a first down at the North Valleys 47. Nolan then completed a 32-yard pass to Brock Pradere for a first down at the NV 15. After a short gain by Nolan, Sawyers scored from the 11 for a 29-0 lead with 9:01 left in the half.
Nolan also turned in an impressive performance.
"I thought he did a nice job," Roman said. "He was very effective. I thought a couple of times he ran a little soon. For his second varsity start, I'm very happy."
"I was nervous at first, but my teammates helped me out a lot. I felt I did a lot better dropping back (to pass) and with my reads. I didn't want to get beat on our home field."
The defense, which allowed 147 yards passing in the first half, made another nice stand on the ensuing possession.
Lewis completed two passes to Krueger as North Valleys drove to Carson's 25. He misfired three of the next four plays, and Carson took over on downs.
Unofficially, Carson gave up 240 yards (197 through the air) of total offense.
"I thought we did good," said linebacker Chance Quilling. "We had a good couple of weeks of practice. We didn't want to let them score."
Sawyers capped the first half scoring with a 13-yard run to cap a 75-yard scoring drive. Nolan completed two passes for first downs to Sawyers and had a nice 15-yard gain to move the sticks.
Carson capped the scoring with 10 third-quarter points.