Sawyers-led Senators finish three-peat
The three-peat is complete.
Carson High, thanks to a 328-yard rushing effort and five scores by Dylan Sawyers and pinpoint passing by Matt Nolan, hammered visiting Reno 47-28 Friday night to cap an undefeated league season.
The Senators finished the regular season 8-1 overall and 8-0 in league. They earned a share of the 4A title with Reed. Carson will be the No. 2 seed entering next week’s playoffs and will host Damonte Ranch on Friday.
“This is huge for the program,” said Sawyers. “We’ve become one of the top programs in the north.”
“I’m proud of the kids,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “They have worked hard. We still have a lot of work to do, and we’re going to work at getting better.”
Right now, the offense is pretty darn good. Out of its nine full possessions, Carson scored seven times. Carson did have the ball for a 10th possession, but Nolan took a knee twice to end the game. Carson finished with 452 yards of total offense.
“We controlled the game,” Roman said. “They weren’t able to stop us. Obviously we have a lot of offensive weapons right now with Dylan, Chance (Quilling) and Brock (Pradere). Our offensive skill set is pretty good.
“We’re moving Dylan around a little bit, and that gives defenses something to think about. We’re also throwing the ball effectively, too.”
This may have been Nolan’s best effort. He completed his first seven passes for 81 yards, missed on his eighth attempt and then hit five in a row before missing again. He finished with 124 yards passing. Nolan’s longest pass was a 35-yarder to Pradere which led to Carson’s third touchdown.
“We need to throw the ball well to take the pressure off Chance and Dylan,” said Nolan, who has done a solid job managing Carson’s potent offense this season.
The first half of the first quarter belonged to Chance Quilling, the talented senior linebacker/wingback. He was coming off a one-game suspension for two unsportsmanlike penalties against Spanish Springs.
Quilling was in on two tackles defensively on Reno’s opening drive, and then accounted for 35 of Carson’s 48 yards on the first scoring drive. He covered the final 26 with an outstanding run, which saw him shake off a tackle at the 20 and go the rest of the way. Austin Pacheco’s PAT made it 7-0 with 6:41 left in the quarter.
Carson played with another short field on its next possession, and again didn’t waste the opportunity. This time it was all Sawyers.
Starting at the Carson 42, Sawyers ripped off gains of 19 and 8 yards before scoring on a 31-yarder. Pacheco’s PAT made it 14-0 with 3:37 left.
“We had run the same play a couple of plays earlier,” Sawyers said. “I read it wrong. I knew if I bounced it out it would be open.”
Reno, which was without starting quarterback Justin Cartlidge (injury) and back-up Chad Savage, played with tailback Nick Norton at quarterback. He gave Carson fits the entire game, rushing 33 times for 215 yards and three scores.
Norton accounted for 52 yards on the ground on the ensuing possession which ended with his 7-yard scoring run. Alec Staley’s PAT made it 14-7 with 9:56 left in the half. Carson had trouble getting off the field, as Reno went 3-for-3 on third-down conversion.
Reno attempted a pooch kick, and Quilling returned it to his own 35. Carson was in the end zone six plays later, as Quilling scored from the 1. Pacheco’s point-after made it 21-7.
The key play was a 32-yard completion to Pradere on a third-and-8 play which gave Carson a first down at the Reno 33. Sawyers gained 32 on the next two carries, setting the stage for Quilling’s score.
Carson’s defense contained Norton on Reno’s next possession, and an 18-yard punt gave Carson the ball at its own 43.
Sawyers had a run and reception for 13 yards to the Reno 44. After a 13-yard reception by Logan Peternell, Sawyers went 31 yards for another score to make it 28-7 with 4:20 left.
A Pradere interception at the Carson 30 gave the Senators a chance to score or get in field goal range. A 33-yard run by Sawyers moved the ball to the Huskies’ 42. A shovel pass to Quilling left Carson a yard short of a first down. Pacheco came on for a 50-yard field goal attempt and his effort had the distance but was wide right with a less than a minute to play in the half.
Carson had the momentum, and kept it starting the second half.
The Senators, starting at their own 20, marched 80 yards in 16 plays with Sawyers scoring from the 6 for his third TD of the day. Carson converted three third-down plays and a fourth-down play.
The fourth-down play was a fourth-and-5 from the Reno 28, and Roman said that he considered kicking a field goal.
“Dylan said to give him the ball and he would get the first down,” Roman said.
Sawyers got nine on that play and scored four plays later to make it 34-7.
Reno scored on the ensuing drive to make it 34-14, but a 47-yard run by Sawyers made it a four-touchdown lead, 41-14, after three.
The Carson star showed off his excellent vision and change of direction throughout the game, but he also showed he can get the tough yards, too.
“I feel good,” Sawyers said. “I’m in better shape than I’ve been. I have gained weight the last couple of years and that makes it easier to shred tackles.”
Roman admitted that Norton playing QB wasn’t something his team was prepared for. Norton was Reno’s offensive weapon, and he took advantage several times of Carson’s inability to wrap him up.
“He’s a heckuva of an athlete,” Roman said. “He ran inside and threw the ball. We have to take better angles and tackle better.”
NOTES: The team paid special tribute to former teammates Keegan Aiazzi and Stephen Anderson and their families during the Senior Night presentation. The former players died earlier this year … Next week’s playoff game will start at 7 p.m.