Fast start, slow finish
RENO — Carson High got a break early when Joey Thurman shook off a poor tackle attempt by Reno’s Matt Young and raced 81 yards for a touchdown to give the Senators a quick 10-0 lead 8 1/2 minutes into Friday’s game.
That was the only break that went Carson’s way the rest of the night. The Senators had a punt return for a TD wiped out on a holding penalty, had a fumble recovery overturned because of offsetting penalties, had a personal foul keep a drive alive which ultimately ended in a touchdown and let Reno get first downs 13 times on 17 third-down attempts.
The Senators were unable to overcome that adversity, dropping a 23-17 decision to the Huskies at Foster Field in a non-league game to fall to 1-1 on the season.
“A lot of plays didn’t go our way tonight,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “We made way too many mistakes tonight. We shot ourselves in the foot. The bottom line is we lost to a good team tonight. I’m proud of the way the kids competed. We took a step in a positive direction.”
In some ways. It certainly was a better offensive performance in the sense that Carson had success running the ball, gaining 175 yards. The defense took a step backward, however, especially when it came to third-down plays. Reno owned Carson all night, as Young and Cole Eddy were particularly effective. What had to be frustrating to the Senators is that they knew what was coming, but couldn’t stop it. It was the same last year.
“I’d say we had a poor performance (on third down),” Roman said. “If we can’t do any better than that, we’re going to have a tough time this season stopping people. There are no excuses.”
It was a mistake that led to Reno’s game-winning TD in the fourth period.
Facing a third-and-6 from the Carson 6, Dakota Baker forced Young to cough up the ball. Andy Cooper recovered, but the play was wiped out because of offsetting penalties. On the next snap, Young found Anjah Anderson Laking for a 6-yard scoring pass to snap a 17-all tie with 7:07 left in the game.
Carson had two more opportunities, but never made it into Reno territory, and only had three first downs on its last 18 snaps of the game.
The finish, which left a sour taste in the mouths of the Carson players and coaches, wiped out a tremendous start by the Senators.
The Senators took the opening kick-off and drove from their own 20 to inside the Reno 10 before settling for a Stefan Sobkiewicz 26-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 4:33 left in the opening quarter. Carson had a chance for a TD, but Garrett Schafer’s pass to Alan Cohen in the right corner of the endzone ticked off Cohen’s hands. The ball could have been thrown a bit better, but it was also a catchable pass.
“Our game plan was to put points on the board (early),” Schafer said. “You want to get the touchdown, but we did get some points.”
After holding the Huskies on the next series, Carson struck quickly.
On first down from the 19, Schafer tossed a pass in the right flat to Thurman. Young tried to tackle Thurman high to no avail, and Thurman dashed down the right sideline for the score. Sobkiewicz’s PAT made it 10-0.
Reno scored on its next three possessions to take a 17-10 halftime lead. On all three possessions, the Huskies either gained enough yards to convert a first down or were the beneficiaries of a controversial call.
On Reno’s first score, an 18-yard pass from Young to Smith, which capped a 79-yard drive, the Huskies went 3-for-3 on third-down conversions.
After recovering an on-sides kick at the Carson 48, Reno used a personal foul call against Cooper on a third-and-4 play to keep their second scoring drive alive. Reno went on to convert three third-down plays, including Young’s 10-yard scoring pass to Deion Seamands to make it 14-10 with 33 seconds left in the first quarter. After Sobkiewicz missed a 52-yard field goal attempt, Reno drove 70 yards in 10 plays and a penalty to get Oliver Graybar into position for a 27-yard field goal which made it 17-10.
Carson tied the game at 17 on its first drive of the second half, driving 53 yards on four plays with Nevin Elliott scoring from the 5. Thurman had a 29-yard run to start the drive.
After that, Carson’s offense stalled out.
“We couldn’t execute,” Carson tackle Aaron Cowee. “I felt like everybody played hard.”
“It’s hard to say right now whether Reno played better or we didn’t execute,” Schafer said. “We have to make the key plays when we have the opportunities.”