Defense rescues Carson in OT win
MINDEN — On a night when Carson High’s offense struggled, the defense stepped it up in a major way.
After surrendering 230 yards in the first half, the defense pitched a second-half shutout and the Senators capped an undefeated Sierra League season with a 19-13 overtime win over rival Douglas Friday night at Keith Roman Field.
Carson completed its regular season with a 7-2 record, 4-0 in league. Douglas finishes 2-7 overall and 1-3 in league. Carson hosts Spanish Springs at 7 p.m. Friday, while the Tigers visit Reed.
This was the second OT win in the last four years for Carson at Douglas. In 2010, Austin Pacheco beat the Tigers with a field goal in overtime, 16-13. The teams were tied at 13 in regulation, and Joey Thurman’s 2-yard run in the first overtime period turned out to be the game-winner.
“After I had some choice words at halftime, we played a lot better defensively,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “The Douglas offensive line pushed us around in the first half.”
Carson’s defense yielded just 84 yards combined in the second half and overtime. Carson gave up just four first downs in that span.
The key plays were turned in by the defense, and the biggest belonged to cornerback Aaron Perez.
Leading 13-6, Douglas quarterback Wes Hundley rolled right and tried to complete a pass to Taylor Souza. Perez jumped the route, picked off the pass and returned it 42 yards for a score to make it 13-12. Stefan Sobkiewicz added the PAT, tying the game at 13 with 11:14 left in regulation.
“I was in man coverage,” Perez said. “I watched a lot of film this week, and Douglas likes to run a lot of hook routes. I saw it and jumped it. I was just worried about catching the ball. I knew I would score when I juked the quarterback.”
“That was the play of the game no doubt about it,” Roman said.
Carson allowed just two first downs the rest of the way. The biggest series started with 2:20 left in regulation. Rocky Hanson pinned Carson inside its own 9 with a great punt. Carson failed to get a first down on the ensuing drive, and Sobkiewicz managed just a 24-yard punt out to the Carson 33.
Douglas’ Mason Rhoads was spilled for a 4-yard loss on first down, and Carson forced a punt which Hanson dropped down at the 4-yard line. Carson managed to run out the clock thanks to an 18-yard gain by Thurman.
Douglas won the toss and elected to take the ball second in overtime. In high school football, each team gets four downs from the 10 until a winner is determined. Carson needed just three downs to get the job done.
Thurman carried three straight times, the final one from 2 yards out. Kyle Adams blocked the PAT by Sobkiewicz, his fifth blocked kick of the season. It was the second time in the game that Carson failed to convert a PAT.
“We saw where we had a match-up advantage, and moved the tight end (Chase Blueberg),” Roman said. “We used the same play every time.”
Cale Kynett was stopped for no gain on the Tigers’ first play, and under heavy pressure, Hundley’s second-down pass was tipped and fell incomplete. On third-and-goal, Hundley (117 yards rushing) ran it down to the 5. On fourth down, the Tigers tried a little trickery. Bailey Viduarri took a handoff from Hundley, stopped, and then threw a pass toward Hundley in the end zone. The pass fell incomplete, sending the Senators home with a win. Hundley argued in vain that pass interference should have been called.
“Normally, teams don’t account for the quarterback sneaking out,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “It was a great effort all the way around. The kids played their tails off. I couldn’t be prouder.”
“It was a good call at the right time,” said Roman of Douglas’ last-second play.
As the ball fell to the ground, Carson players streamed onto the field. It was a little payback for last year’s disappointing loss at Carson which ended the Senators’ season.
“It was an intense game,” said CHS senior Andy Cooper. “It was a little redemption for last year.”
Douglas used a fumble by Blueberg (5 catches, 76 yards) at the Carson 49 for its first score, a 25-yard field goal by Tay Simms with 9:18 left in the half.
After Carson went three and out on the ensuing drive, the Tigers drove 72 yards in 11 plays with Kynett scoring from the 4. Simms’ PAT made it 10-0 with 2:18 left. Douglas ran the wildcat with Kaleb Foster at quarterback, and he rushed twice for 11 yards on the drive. Monfiletto said it was the first time he’s used the formation with Foster this year.
Carson drove to Douglas’ 33 on the next drive, but came up empty when quarterback Garrett Schafer threw incomplete passes on third and fourth down.
Douglas marched down to Carson’s 21 thanks to a 20-yard yard run by Rhoads and an 18-yard gain by Hundley. The drive stalled, and Simms booted a 38-yard field goal on the last play of the half to make it 13-0.
“We didn’t come out ready to play and they did,” Cooper said. “I think we played to their record, and you can’t do that against Douglas.”
“I thought we left a couple of drives out there in the first half,” Roman said. “Garrett had a couple of throws where he didn’t give the receiver a chance to make a play. Give Douglas credit, their offensive line dominated in the first half.”
Carson started the second half with a nice drive down to Douglas’ 25, but Foster killed the threat when he intercepted a Schafer pass. After the Tigers went three and out, Carson drove 65 yards in 10 plays with Schafer throwing a 7-yard scoring pass to Thurman to make it 13-6 with 50.3 left in the third.
That set the stage for Perez’s heroics.