Carson beats South Tahoe
Appeal Sports Writer
Following Friday’s game against South Tahoe, about two dozen Carson Senators football fans lined up on two sides of the gate exiting the field, formed a makeshift human tunnel and began chanting, “Hammond, Hammond, Hammond.”
Shortly thereafter, Carson quarterback Mitch Hammond, coming off his best performance of the season, jogged through the human back-slapping wall and off to the locker room.
Hammond had a team-high 156 yards rushing -including one touchdown – on 25 attempts and passed for his first TD of the year as Carson took a 28-21 victory over the South Tahoe Vikings at Carson High School.
The victory improved the Senators to 1-1 in Sierra League play – 1-4 overall – and snapped a five-game losing streak dating back to last year’s loss to the Reed Raiders in the first round of the Northern 4A Regional playoffs.
In addition to his ground game, Hammond, who was sacked 10 times in a 28-7 loss to Reno last week, wasn’t trapped behind the line of scrimmage once in completing 3-of-6 passes for 26 yards.
“I just got tired of losing – the whole team did,” said Hammond, who put Carson up 7-0 on a 2-yard touchdown run 7 minutes, 13 seconds into the game. “It was a great team effort tonight. It wasn’t pretty. We beat up on ourselves, but it’s a win. We’ll take it.”
In addition to keeping its quarterback safe and opening up the field for him, the Carson offensive line also paved the way for a spectacular performance from senior running back Chris McBroom, who gained 143 yards on 16 attempts and scored two touchdowns, including one from 2 yards out to give the Senators a 14-0 lead with 8:36 to go in the second quarter.
McBroom ripped off a 61-yard burst earlier in that scoring drive, breaking loose from the Senators 29 and getting hauled down on the Vikings 10, almost taking it all the way.
“I thought I’d make an inside move (near the 10) – it was a bad decision,” McBroom said. “I didn’t score. I was pretty upset. I don’t have the speed of a Will Holbert.”
McBroom was referring to the uber-athlete/running back/cornerback, who was out of the lineup after suffering a fractured ankle against Reno – one of several Senators to miss Friday’s game.
Also out was starting noseguard Aaron Jolcover (mononucleosis), defensive lineman Robert Higgins (concussion), backup quarterback Gabe Ramirez (separated shoulder), linebacker Philip Maier (neck), defensive lineman Trent Simpson (sprained ankle), and two other players who were suspended for making “poor choices.”
Carson’s line was dominant on both sides of the ball. Offensively the Senators gained 333 yards on 53 attempts and had 359 yards of total offense. Defensively, Carson held the Vikings to five yards rushing on 22 attempts.
South Tahoe senior quarterback Anthony Stagnaro wasn’t allowed to play for unspecified reasons by first-year head coach Chris Morgan. Junior backup William Ervin went 13-of-22 for 187 yards and three touchdowns, including a 2-yarder to Christopher Klug and a 5-yarder to Mike Burns (followed by a 2-pointer) to tie the game at 14-14 with 14 seconds remaining in the first half.
“Will Ervin stepped up for us,” said Morgan, a two-way star for the Vikings in the mid-’80’s. “Unfortunately we came out on the losing end of the game. (Carson coach) Shane (Quilling) thinks he’s got problems. We have ten-fold more problems. This game wasn’t a battle of unbeatens; it was a battle of the beaten up.
“Both teams had a lot of injuries and other issues. We were down players. I credit my guys. We were down to 18 kids by the end of the game. They were playing their hearts out. That’s all I can ask. It was a good football game – no doubt.”
South Tahoe fell to 0-2 in league and 0-5 overall.
Carson had the chance to increase its 14-7 lead after defensive end Blake Davidson sacked Ervin on the Carson 48. But three plays later Hammond was picked off by Klug.
The Senators had two costly penalties – roughing the passer and pass interference – on the Vikings’ tying drive. The roughing call negated an Eric Gundrum interception and the pass interference call came in spite of a tipped pass at the line that was intercepted by Brian Halverson.
Quilling didn’t agree with the latter call, but also pointed to his team making self-destructive plays at times.
“The bottom line is that we’re our own worst enemy,” Quilling said. “We let them stay in the game. We blew coverage (on the 5-yard score). We let then run a slant on the 2-pointer. We had a roughing the passer penalty and blew coverage on the touchdowns. We could’ve scored a couple more times.”
McBroom followed a 16-yard gain in the third quarter with another 16-yarder to put Carson ahead for good at 8:44.
“It was a 35 cross,” McBroom said of his second TD. “(Lineman) Daniel Faiella pulled and knocked a defensive end’s head off and I put it in.”
Faiella also recovered a fumble and teamed up with Erik Roberson for a sack of Ervin. Carson’s Blake Davidson and Matt Kleinfieldt added a sack apiece for the Senators.
Hammond connected with tight end Nick Cutunilli for a 11-yard touchdown – Hammond’s first of the year – to go up 28-14 with 8:02 remaining in the game.
“We worked all week at getting no negative (yardage) plays,” Hammond said. “If we had a broken play, we had to get back to the line of scrimmage, if not more than that. Our offense did much better than we have – 28 points. We scored four out of five times in the red zone.”
“We went into the game wanting to throw more,” Quilling said. “When you’re averaging six or seven a (running) play, it’s hard to throw. We dominated the line of scrimmage. There was no reason to throw.
“Mitch did some great things. You take away two plays (including a missed pitch to McBroom, resulting in a fumble) and he played a great game. He showed great leadership and made some good checks. He ran for some tough yards. I’m very, very happy with his effort.”
South Tahoe rounded out the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Ervin to Klug with 2:54 to go.
“I’m happy with our effort – I’m happy for our kids,” Quilling said. “We’re 1-1 in league. Nothing else matters. If we work hard and eliminate our mistakes, we can be a decent team – if we quit hurting ourselves.”
In its next game Carson will host Wooster Friday at 7:30 p.m.