Senators back on track
Forget about the adversity.
The Carson High football team simply put a revised lineup on the field, reached down and came up with its best offensive performance of the season for an important 38-21 homecoming victory against North Valleys on Friday night.
Bryan Maffei rushed for 175 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown dash in the fourth quarter to virtually wrap up the win, while senior quarterback Kyle Bacon came off the bench to throw for 110 yards and two touchdowns plus he ran for two more scores as the Senators scored a season-high 38 points.
In fact, the Senators had only scored 38 points in their first five games of the season. More important, they pulled even at 1-1 in the Sierra League standings (2-4 overall).
“The kids did some great things tonight,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said. “We talked about three things coming into the game – playing hard, finishing the play and making big plays – and they gave a great effort.”
Make that great effort on both sides of the ball.
North Valleys got a 100-yard kickoff return by talented Tim Wholey to start the second half and passed for 204 yards. But Carson’s defensive unit countered with three fumble recoveries and each one led to a score, one interception and four quarterback sacks on the night.
Not bad for a team that has lost five starters for the season due for various reasons over the last two weeks.
“We’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity,” said defensive nose guard David Cadwallader, who was in on two sacks that thwarted a North Valleys drive in the second quarter. “We stepped up as a team overall – offensively, defensively and on special teams.”
One obscure statistic goes far in telling the story – Carson had possession of the ball for 30 minutes and 34 seconds in a 48-minute game. And the Senators set the tone from the start when they took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown.
With Bacon watching from the sidelines due to a rib injury, sophomore Tony Roberts started at quarterback and opened the game with an eight-yard run. Two plays later, Maffei broke a 38-yard run to the North Valleys 31. Bacon came on to the field, faced with a third-and-19 situation, and completed back-to-back passes to Scott Witter for gains of 14 and five yards, and another first down. Bacon carried 15 yards to give the Senators first-and-goal, then he scored on a one-yard sneak behind a block from Mike Horrigan.
“That was so big,” Quilling said. “Every game we’ve played this year, we’ve always taken the opening kickoff and taken the ball down the field, but then we’ve made mistakes that have killed us. We’ve come away with a couple of field goals before, but this time we punched it in, and that sort of set the tone for the rest of the night.”
Maffei recovered the ensuing onside kick to give the ball back to Carson, but the Senators went three-and-out and punted the ball away.
They got the ball right back, however, when Seth Carter recovered a fumble at the North Valleys 13. This time, the Senators capitalized when Matt Mitchell kicked a 35-yard field goal.
North Valleys pulled to within 10-7 when quarterback Edgar Macias threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Wholey, capping a drive that covered 68 yards on seven plays.
The Panthers got the ball back after holding on downs near midfield, but Carson got the ball back one play later when Horrigan sacked Macias, jarred the ball loose and Jason Dittenber recovered at the 41.
On the next play, Bacon found Matt Moore alone downfield for a 41-yard touchdown pass. Moore caught the ball, shook off a tackle at the 10, and scampered into the endzone to give Carson a 17-7 lead with 55 seconds remaining before halftime.
“We had watched it on film all week. We ran a double route, they bit on the shorter route and I just threw it over the top of them,” Bacon said.
The senior pointed out the importance of answering after a North Valleys score.
“We kept counter-punching,” Bacon said. “We talked about that. We always wanted to score after they did. We didn’t want them to get too close.”
North Valleys could have seized the momentum when Wholey returned the second half for a touchdown to cut Carson’s lead to 17-14.
Carson’s defense didn’t allow that to happen when linebacker Corde Armstrong recovered a fumble at the North Valleys 25 with 7:39 remaining in the third quarter. Five plays later, Witter caught a 15-yard touchdown strike from Bacon. For the night, Bacon completed seven of 11 passes and Witter caught five balls for 63 yards.
Bacon scored on another one-yard sneak later in the third quarter, but the Panthers answered early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Wyatt Herbst threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Scheller to make it 31-21 with 7:13 remaining to play. Herbst came in to play quarterback after Macias injured his arm late in the second quarter and completed seven of 18 passes for 121 yards.
Carson answered immediately when Maffei took a handoff on a scissors play and dashed 85 yards for his first touchdown of the season.
“That came at an important time because they had just gotten back in the game,” Quilling said.
Jeremy Gray sealed the victory for Carson with an interception at the 25 inside the final minute.
“This was a great win for us. This gets us back to 1-1 in league,” Bacon said. “We’re back in the (playoff) race.”
NORTH VALLEYS JV 38, CARSON 15
Touchdown runs by Rob Frederick and Ryan Eichenberger weren’t enough to put the Senators over the top in their league opener against North Valleys on Thursday night.
Carson scored on its opening drive, capped by Frederick’s 12-yard TD run, to take an 8-0 lead. Eichenberger scored on a quarterback keeper in the third quarter and Quentin Dankworth kicked the PAT.
Defensive lineman John Andrews intercepted a pass in the first quarter and Chris Kepley picked off a pass in the endzone in the fourth quarter for Carson’s defense.
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.