Carson football falls to North Valleys
Appeal Sports Writer
While some foul weather kept everyone wet Friday at Carson High School, it was ultimately the North Valleys Panthers who rained on the Carson Senators’ Homecoming parade.
Speedy running back Archie Kovich and opportunistic fullback Chris Castellanos sliced through the Senators’ defense and North Valleys’ defense shut down Carson’s offense as the Panthers took a 30-14 win in the Sierra League matchup.
“Tremendous credit goes to the way Carson played,” said North Valleys coach Jason Ehlen, whose team improved to 3-1 in league and 5-2 overall. “The (Carson) kids came fired up for Homecoming and their coaches did a good job. Our kids rallied. We hung in and played great defense and a couple runs by Castellanos sealed the deal.”
The North Valleys defense held Carson to 145 total yards. Senators quarterback Mitch Hammond was 9-of-14 for 85 yards through the air, but was held to minus-1 yard on 15 carries. Running back Travis Lamborn picked up 54 yards on 18 attempts.
“They did a hell of a job shutting our run down,” said Quilling, whose Senators fell to 1-3 in league and 2-5 overall. “They established the line of scrimmage. We weren’t able to run the ball. Our young guys up front…you could tell that (they were young) tonight.”
Trailing 12-7 at the half, Carson found itself in more trouble after giving up a long kick return to Kovich, who took it down to the Senators’ 30-yard line to start the second half. But a fumble recovery by defensive end Daniel Faiella on the first play of the subsequent drive gave the Senators some much-needed momentum.
Nine plays later, Lamborn capped off a 70-yard drive to give the Senators a 14-12 lead with 6 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
But North Valleys responded with an 11-play drive and went up 15-14 with on a 31-yard field goal by Cameron Niel to take the lead for good with 2:48 to go in the quarter.
“I’m very disappointed,” Quilling said. “We definitely had a chance. They are a solid team, not a great team. We’re not a great team. The score looks worse than it was. I thought our kids played well.”
Carson hung tough and took possession of the ball on its own 46 with 5:30 to go in the game. A 4-yard completion from Hammond to Richie Norgrove got Carson to the 50, but on the next play Norgrove wasn’t able to hang on to Hammond’s pass on what would have been a first down.
“It was a good pass,” Quilling lamented. “(Norgrove) dropped a slant. It was a game-changer, most likely. We’ll never know. We had to punt.”
That punt came two plays later after Hammond was stopped for no gain. Quilling said he had confidence that his defense, with three timeouts, could contain North Valleys.
“It was the right thing to do,” Quilling said of the decision.
North Valleys took over on its 15 and after Carson stopped Kovich for a 1-yard gain on first down. But Castellanos made the Senators pay on the next play and took it to the house on an 84-yard run. After a 2-point conversion, the Panthers had a 23-14 lead with 3:31 to go.
After Carson failed to answer, North Valleys got the ball back and Castellanos scored his third touchdown of the game with 2:28 to go for the 30-14 lead.
Castellanos also had a 5-yard run to give the Panthers a 12-7 lead with 1:13 to go in the first half. He finished with 135 yards on 20 carries.
“Except for the last two fullback traps (by Castellanos), our defense played their asses off,” Quilling said. “(The Panthers) are potent. They only hurt us on one fly sweep that led to their second touchdown (Castellanos’ 5-yarder).”
Kovich did his share of damage from both sides of the ball. In addition to several tackles, Kovich opened the scoring with a 28-yard interception for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead at the 5:38 mark of the first quarter.
“Mitch floated one up,” Quilling said of the play. “It was a (poor) throw. He floated it up in the flat.”
Carson got back into the game in the second quarter when Robbie Bozin, making his return from a high ankle sprain, took a fumble off the back of another player 61 yards for the score and a 7-6 Senators lead with 3:12 to go in the quarter.
But in the end it was too much Kovich. He had 153 yards in the first half alone, including 146 yards on six carries in the second quarter. Kovich had 41 yards on one carry, followed by a 59-yarder.
Kovich, who finished with 161 yards on 13 carries, also had a 54-yard touchdown called back because of a penalty.
“Kovich is just a gifted athlete and playmaker,” Ehlen said. “Throughout the year, without a doubt, he’s been our No. 1 playmaker. When they focus on Archie, we have Castellanos and Justen Gomes to complement him.”
With the loss, it looks like Carson must win its last three games – against South Tahoe and Wooster on the road, and Reno at home – to have a shot at making the playoffs.
“We probably have to win out to have a shot,” Quilling agreed. “We’re not going to overlook anybody. We’ve gotta go to South Tahoe next week and get a win.”