The explosion the Carson Senators have been waiting for from junior quarterback Joe Nelson finally happened.
Nelson, starting just his third game of the season, threw for 262 yards and two scores, and ran 25 yards for another score to lead Carson to an easy 49-6 win over rival Douglas before a near capacity crowd Friday night at Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
The win, which came on Senior Night, capped a 4-0 Sierra League season for the Senators and moved their overall record to 7-2. Carson opens the playoffs at home next Friday against McQueen.
“I’m happy for the seniors,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “We don’t have a big group, but this senior class is as good as I’ve ever had. We wanted the title outright.
“Joe Nelson played a great game. He broke out tonight like I thought he could. His accuracy and strength (on throwing the deep ball) was tremendous.”
Instead of establishing the run right away with Colby Brown, who would end up the night with four TDs, Roman established Nelson. The junior signal-caller threw on three of the first five plays, which opened up the running game even more. By the time the game was over, Carson had sliced and diced the Douglas defense to the tune of 547 yards, and Nelson was a huge part of it. He completed 13 of 18 passes without an interception.
“Douglas is physical on defense,” Roman said. “They do a good job of scheming against our base offense. They take stuff away. We needed to do something different.”
“We called two pass plays and a run by me on the first three plays,” Nelson said. “That gets me into the game. It was really good for me. The game has slowed down a lot for me in the last few weeks. I’m getting more confident in calling plays and leading the team.”
Carson’s offense was so efficient on its first drive the Senators faced just one third-down situation, and Asa Carter picked up 7 yards and a first down out to the Carson 26 following the first of two Cale Kynett fumbles. Two plays later, Nelson hit Dilyn Rooker for 22 yards and a first down at the Douglas 44. Four plays later, Nelson found Brown behind Trevor Tierney in the end zone for a 34-yard TD pass. Johnny Barahona’s PAT made it 7-0 with 8:20 left in the quarter.
“I just ran down the seam,” Brown said. “Joe put it right there. He did a great job tonight.”
Douglas failed to get a first down on its next two possessions, and Abreu’s 24-yard punt gave the Senators good field position at their own 35.
Nelson took the Senators on a 10-play scoring drive, capped by Brown’s 1-yard scoring run. Barahona’s PAT made it 14-0 with 11:41 left in the half.
The key play was Nelson’s 37-yard screen pass to Asa Carter, who turned the corner and got all the way down to the 1.
Brown scored on the next play.
Carter made a big defensive play on the next Douglas possession, stepping in front of a Bryce James pass at the Douglas 48.
After a short run by Brown, Nelson and Connor Pradere hooked up for a 33-yard completion down to the Douglas 12, setting up Brown’s third TD of the game on the next play which made it 21-0 with 9:16 remaining in the half.
Douglas’ offense continued to struggle, leaving the defenseless defense on the field way too long.
“The offense has to be productive,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “You can’t leave your defense on the field all night.”
After two more possession in which the Tigers had just one first down, Carson got the ball back with 4:22 left in the half.
The Senators needed just 97 seconds to score. Two plays after a 24-yard screen pass to Carter, Nelson launched a bomb to Pradere, who beat the Douglas secondary to the end zone to finish the 61-yard pas-and-catch play. Barahona’s PAT made it 28-0.
“We faked the fly and the safety bit hard on the run,” Nelson said.
Carson came out strong in the second half, putting together a 60-yard scoring drive which was capped by Brown’s impressive 30-yard scoring run to make it 35-0. Brown accounted for 46 yards on the drive.
After Douglas punted following one more first down, Carson took over on its own 25 and put together a punishing 16-play 75-yard scoring drive.
Brown scored on a 4-yard run to cap his 115-yard night.
The TD wasn’t the big play of the drive, however. His 6-yard gain on a third-and-2 play put him over the 1,000-mark for the season.
“The win meant more,” Brown said. “I didn’t know when I broke it. I knew what I had going into the game.”
“I knew he needed 83 to get there,” Roman said. “It’s nice to see him reach that.
“Going forward, Colby is going to have to play well for us. We have a tough road ahead.”
But with Nelson showing that Carson can indeed be a vertical team, it will give opposing teams another thing to worry about.