Abel Carter demonstrated Friday night how he can take over a game.
Carter scored three rushing touchdowns, scored on his own blocked punt, intercepted a pass and was a terror on defense in Carson High’s 41-20 Homecoming victory over North Valleys at Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
Carson ended its non-league schedule with a 3-2 record, and opens Sierra League play on the road against Galena on Friday.
“As a senior, Asa could do that, and Abel is getting to that point where he just takes over,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “He’s a pretty special player. We sputtered a little in the first half. I think we wore them down in the fourth quarter.
“North Valleys did a great job. They came to play. They threw the ball well, much better than I saw on film.”
All three NV touchdowns, two against the starting unit, came on long touchdown passes of 80, 30 and 80 yards. Carson did a solid job stopping the run, but struggled defending the pass.
“Big plays hurt us,” said Carter. “We need to fix that and we’ll be fine.”
One of the breakdowns came on the Panthers’ first drive when Breyden Beaumont threw a slant to Tyler Jones, who turned it into an 80-yard score. Kyle Glanzmann appeared to go for the interception, and when he didn’t get it, Jones had an open path to the end zone to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
“Abel blitzed, and I thought I had inside help,” Glanzmann said. “They should not have scored on that.”
Then it was Carter to the rescue.
Chance Smith returned the ensuing kickoff to the CHS 46, and the Senators needed just seven plays to even the game. Carter capped the drive with a 4-yard run. Tanner Kalicki’s PAT made it 7-all with 6:56 left in what would prove to be a wild first quarter.
The Panthers were forced to punt, and Carter sliced in from the corner to block the kick. The CHS star scooped up the ball somewhere inside the 5 and scored. The PAT gave Carson a 14-7 lead, and the Senators would never trail again.
“That is something we worked on in practice all week,” Carter said. “The end guy was in tight, so I thought I could get around the corner. And, the punter was close.”
The game quieted down until the final 1-minute, 40-seconds when each team scored a touchdown.
After Blake Menzel threw an interception, the Panthers scored on the next play when Beaumont lofted a 30-yard scoring pass to Jalen Weaver, who made a leaping grab at the goal line. Beaumont’s PAT tied the game at 14.
It took just one play and 23 seconds for Carson to retaliate.
Carter took a hand-off, avoided a tackle, shook off another Panther and scored on a 69-yard run. Kalicki’s PAT gave Carson a 21-14 lead.
“I made the first guy miss and a second guy had me around the legs, but I was able to shake that off,” Carter said.
On the ensuing series, Carter intercepted a pass at the Carson 40 and returned it 2 yards to the 42. The drive, however, bogged down immediately.
Each team had one more possession, but did nothing with them.
North Valleys had a chance to cash in after sophomore quarterback Jon Laplante threw an interception that was returned to the Carson 32, but Beaumont missed a 37-yard field goal attempt.
The Senators struck quickly after that.
Two plays after taking over at the 20, Smith bolted 74 yards for a score to up Carson’s lead to 28-14 with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I thought that was a key play in the game,” Roman said. “We ran it perfectly.”
“I had really struggled running the ball (early),” Smith said.
“I needed to score. I saw two guys coming at me and I got past them and started sprinting to the end zone.”
Smith finished with 89 yards (Carson ran for 382 overall) and he showed he may be the complementary back the Senators need to take pressure off Carter.
“I think I can do it,” Smith said. “I know Abel is under a lot of pressure. Not getting to play (earlier) has motivated me to be a better player.”
The Panthers went three and out, and then made matters worse with a 21-yard punt, giving Carson prime field position at the NV 36. Carter scored five plays later on a 13-yard run to make it 35-14 with 10:19 left in the game.
Carson mounted a 76-yard drive on its next possession capped by Kyle Rudy’s 1-yard scoring run, his first score of the year.
North Valleys scored its final touchdown on another 80-ard slant play to make it 41-20 with 2:56 remaining.
“I liked the way we finished the game,” Roman said.
It certainly gives Carson some much-needed momentum heading into next weekend.