All that Carson has left is its pride after defeat
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO - The Carson Senators may not be headed to the postseason following their 24-21 defeat to the Panthers
The Senators had three turnovers, two dropped passes in the end zone and a couple of costly penalties. The defense also couldn’t stop running back Chris Castellanos, who rushed for 178 yards on 17 attempts and scored on runs of 6, 28, 21 and 40 yards to lead the Panthers, now 3-3 in the Sierra League and 4-5 overall to the brink of the playoffs.
But the Senators never lost their resolve.
Fighting 50-mph winds and horizontal rain, the Senators fell behind 24-7 on Castellanos’ 40-yard run with 9 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The soaked Carson sideline remained boisterous and supportive however, yelling in support of its offense, which capped off a 14-play, 86-yard drive – most of it going face-first into the windblown rain – when senior quarterback Chris McBroom found Steve Fowzer in the end zone with 11:15 left in the game to cut the deficit to 24-13.
Fowzer led the Senators with four receptions for 71 yards and the score.
The Panthers’ Tyler Miles coughed up the ball on the subsequent kickoff and Carson’s Bryce Evans recovered it to give the Senators some hope as they took possession with the wind at their backs.
Carson couldn’t capitalize, as the Senators fumbled the ball back to North Valleys.
The Carson defense stiffened and stopped the Panthers on two drives. The special teams followed suit and fell on botched punt to give the offense another chance on the North Valleys 29.
McBroom, who finished the game 6-of-13 for 90 yards and one touchdown passing, hit Fowzer in the end zone, but Fowzer couldn’t keep a handle on the slick ball. After a false start and a sack dropped the Senators back to their own 45, Fowzer atoned for his mistake and hauled in a McBroom pass on a fourth-and 26 and took it to the 9.
Two plays later, McBroom found Maciek Kuroczka for an eight-yard score. McBroom and Fowzer hooked up on the 2-point conversion and Carson trailed 24-21 with 35 seconds left.
North Valleys senior Corey Gorges sealed the victory for the Panthers when he fell on the on-side kick attempt.
Kuroczka finished with a team-high 88 yards on 24 carries, adding two receptions for 19 yards and the TD.
“The kids played with a lot of heart,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said. “They played hard. They fought to the bitter end.”
Carson fell to 2-4 in league and 2-7 overall.
The Senators got on the scoreboard first, when McBroom took it in from the 1. A Bogart Parra extra point gave Carson a 7-0 lead with 1:27 to go in the first quarter.
Carson nearly went by two touchdowns after stopping a fake punt by the Panthers and getting the ball on the North Valleys 20. On fourth-and-12 from the 22, however, tight end Nick Cutunilli, who has been battling a knee injury, couldn’t find the handle on a McBroom strike in the end zone.
North Valleys came alive on the next drive and Castellanos, who had been pretty much bottled up, began to cut through the Carson defense and scored from 6 yards out to make it 7-6 (the point after failed).
Quilling sighed when he looked at the final numbers, which showed Carson with 240 yards of offense to North Valleys’ 191.
“That’s kind of been our season,” he said. “The defense did a great job, but they couldn’t tackle (Castellanos) on four plays. You couldn’t believe our tackling drills the last three weeks. And we still had a chance to win.
“The playoffs are over. We have one game left. We’ll see if we can come out and play. We’ll be ready. It will probably be a good game. We’ve lost by five, six, two and three points. We haven’t found ways to get it done. But you can’t fault our heart or our effort.”
Carson hosts Douglas on Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m.