Sawyers sparkles in return; Carson tops Galena
RENO – He’s baaaaaaack.
After three weeks of hanging out on the sidelines with a calf injury, Dylan Sawyers returned to Carson High’s lineup Thursday night, and it was like he never left.
Sawyers scored twice on runs of 65 and 25 yards en route to a 149-yard effort in the Senators’ 35-10 win over Galena.
The win was Carson’s seventh straight since a season-opening loss to Highland High of Pocatello, Idaho. Carson is 7-1 overall and 7-0 in league. The Senators and Reed are the only unbeaten teams in Northern 4A heading into the last week of the regular season.
The highlight of the night was definitely Sawyers, who barely showed any rust.
“I feel great,” said Sawyers after getting a hug and kiss from his mother after the game. “I’m ecstatic.
“I fell really good. I don’t feel that tired. I had a lot of adrenaline out there tonight.”
And, his coach liked what he saw.
“I didn’t know exactly how much he was going to play tonight,” Carson’s Blair Roman said. “A lot depended on how he felt, and he said he felt good. It was good to see.”
What wasn’t good to see was Carson’s defense getting pushed a round a little too much by a second-division team that has only won once this season.
Unofficially, Galena outgained Carson 351-309, but what’s really galling is that the Grizzlies held the ball for 73 plays compared to 37 for the Senators, who played without star linebacker Chance Quilling, who was suspended for the game after picking up two unsportsmanlike penalties against Spanish Springs last week.
The nearly 2-1 advantage is a little skewed because of Brock Pradere’s 100-yard interception return, Sawyers’ 65-yard scoring run on the first play of a series and a four-play scoring drive in the second half, but that side of the ball needs to get better in a hurry.
“Galena did some good things offensively to control the ball,” Roman said. “We scored quick a few times tonight. I’d be more concerned (about the play differential) if we were on the other end (of the score).”
Sawyers came out smoking hot on the Senators’ first drive. He had a 13-yard catch on the third play from scrimmage, and on third-and-2 from the Galena 47, he gained 17 yards down to the 30. After an incomplete pass by Matt Nolan and a 5-yard reception by Austin Pacheco, Sawyers broke loose for a 25-yard scoring run on the next play. Pacheco’s PAT made it 7-0 with 9:13 left.
Galena, thanks to the running of Connor Marks and Logan Harger, marched right down the field on its opening drive, chalking up four first downs in the process. Harger had a 22-yard gain and QB Brock Raggio threw a 15-yard pass to Zane Copenhaver.
Carson’s defense stiffened in the red zone. Facing a third-and-5 from the Carson 6, Raggio threw for the endzone. Austin Pacheco got a hand on the ball, and Pradere caught it at the goal line and took it to the house untouched. Pacheco’s PAT made it 14-0 with 4:14 left.
“Galena likes to throw the slant,” Pacheco said. “I just dropped back into the flat and tried to get a hand on it which I did.”
“We were in a cover 3,” Pradere said. “I saw the ball get tipped and I just ran over to catch it.”
Galena did get into the end zone on its next possession, driving 80 yards on 16 plays and two penalties with Raggio capping the drive on a 1-yard run. Copenhaver’s PAT cut Carson’s lead to 14-7.
Sawyers made it a two-touchdown lead on the next play from scrimmage, dashing 65 yards. Pacheco converted to make it 21-7 lead with 9:46 remaining.
“It was like a counter,” Sawyers said. “It was intended to get them going in one direction. The line opened up a nice hole.”
Galena punted on its next two possessions, and Carson was able to convert the second punt into a score right before the half.
The Senators drove 76 yards in seven plays for the score. It appeared Sawyers was going to score his third TD of the half from the 5, but he had the ball jarred loose at the goal line and Logan Peternell recovered it in the end zone, and the Senators went up 28-7 at the intermission. Pradere had a huge role in the drive, catching three passes for 66 yards en route to a 103-yard night.
Carson put in sophomore quarterback Garrett Schafer to start the second half, and he looked solid. He went 5-for-7 passing for 55 yards, including a 12-yard scoring toss to Pradere.
“I thought we executed well on offense,” Roman said. “We didn’t run a lot of plays. We were able to get our sophomore quarterback (Garrett Schafer) in there the second half. Matt Nolan had a bum ankle and we only wanted to play him for a half.
“Overall we were flat. We didn’t play with the type of intensity we usually play with.”
Standing in the way of a perfect league season are the Reno Huskies, who ruined Carson’s bid for a perfect league season last year with a 21-17 win in Reno.
“It would be huge (to go undefeated in league), especially for the seniors who have worked so hard the last couple of years,” Sawyers said.