Carson’s loss keyed by line play
It all starts up front on both sides of the ball. Any football coach will tell you that’s where games are won or lost.
And, that’s where Galena got the best of the Carson Senators on Friday night. Galena eliminated Carson 14-7 in overtime because its offensive and defensive lines were better that night.
Carson’s high-powered running offense never really got on track, especially with its outside run game. Galena had switched from a 5-3-3 to a 4-4-3 defense designed to defend the edges and funnel any wide running attempts by Dylan Sawyers back to the inside. The strategy worked, as Sawyers gained 84 yards and was unable to break off the long outside runs we’ve been accustomed to seeing all year, as Galena’s defense was able to get penetration into the Carson backfield much of the night.
Defensive coordinator Bob Bateman could only shake his head after the game.
“We’ve eaten up 4-4 defenses all year,” he said.
Unfortunately not when it counted the most.
Carson had just two decent drives all night. The first was the 57-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter that ended in a 20-yard scoring run by Mark Sinnott. The second was Carson’s last drive in regulation when it moved from its own 23 to the Galena 20 only to see Ean Witter’s potential game-winning field goal miss wide right with no time left on the clock.
Galena’s offensive front was especially impressive in controlling the Carson defensive front, eating up the clock with it’s ball-control tactics. The Grizzlies rushed for 193 yards, including 158 by Eric Howsley, who lugged the ball 38 times and still had enough energy in overtime to trip up Sawyers on the last play of the game for a 3-yard loss.
In the first half, Galena put together two impressive drives.
The first was the last drive of the opening quarter. Beau Bickel drove Galena from its own 29 to the Carson 15, but tried to cross up Carson with a first-down pass that Josh Peacock intercepted in the end zone. Not only did the Grizzlies control the ball for nearly four minutes, they were never once forced into a third-down play on the drive.
The Grizzlies’ next drive was even better, and this one resulted in the first score of the game. The 75-yard, 15-play drive (and two penalties) took up the final 7 minutes, 19 seconds of the first half. Galena faced just three third downs on the drive and converted two before Howsley punched it over from the 1 on a fourth-down play as time expired.
The only team to post a longer drive against Carson was Spanish Springs, which used a drove of more than 9:00 in the season opener.
There were some defensive bright spots. Peacock picked off his ninth pass of the season, junior Connor Beattie had a sack for a loss of 14 yards along with an interception on back-to-back series, and Luke Carter, Erik Roberson and Ryan Hoskins turned in some big plays.
There wasn’t a dry eye among Carson players after their post-game talk with the coaching staff, nor did I expect there to be. The 23 seniors had their eye on making the state playoffs, and that was certainly a possibility.
A 9-3 record is nothing to sneeze at. This was one of Carson’s best team in many years. The loss was disappointing to be sure, but in no way takes away from what the Senators accomplished during the 2009 season.