Senators show their balance in demolition of Damonte
It’s what every coach strives for, and Carson coach Blair Roman knows that for his Senators to go deep in the football playoffs they need to show that they can run and pass with equal efficiency.
The Senators’ offense scored on seven of their 10 possessions en route to an easy 44-17 win over visiting Damonte Ranch Friday night in the first round of the NIAA 4A playoffs.
Carson, seeded No. 2, improved to 9-1 overall, and will host No. 6 Manogue next Friday at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the regional finals. Manogue upset No. 3 McQueen 18-7.
The Senators, who ended up with 411 yards of total offense, got big days and big plays from their skill people – Dylan Sawyers, Matt Nolan, Chance Quilling and Brock Pradere.
• Sawyers carried 26 times for 145 yards and five scores. He also threw a 56-yard halfback option to set up a score and he caught three passes for 24 yards. It was Sawyers’ second consecutive five-touchdown game, and he has 25 scores on the season.
• Nolan went 11-for-17 passing for 142 yards, and he rushed three times for 41 yards. He did throw his second and third interceptions of the season, but his scrambling opened things up for Sawyers and Quilling.
• Pradere enjoyed another nice game, catching five balls for 98 yards and a score.
• Quilling caught three passes for 48 yards and a score, including acrobatic 1-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
“I thought the offense played well the entire game,” said Roman. “Going forward, we know we have to be balanced. Chance made a couple of great plays tonight.”
“I thought we came out pretty intense,” Nolan said. “I thought we executed very well. We knew that Damonte wanted to play us, and we played with a chip on our shoulders.”
Damonte made Carson’s job real easy, as the defense forced the Mustangs to cough up the ball four times and Carson recovered three. Punts of 8 and 15 yards also led to scores.
“When you turn the ball over, you are not going to win football games,” Damonte coach Tony Amantia said.
It was all Sawyers on the first drive. He carried five times for 41 yards, as the Senators drove 68 yards to take control early.
After Damonte’s Drew Smith shanked an 8-yard punt that was downed at the Mustangs’ 32, the Senators went to work again.
Quilling took a shovel pass from Nolan and rumbled down to the 5 to set up Sawyers’ second 5-yard run of the game to give Carson a 13-0 lead. Pacheco missed the extra points wide left. Carson made just one of seven extra points, as bad snaps abounded.
“It was painful to watch,” Roman admitted.
Damonte collected two first downs on its next drive, but Smith managed just a 15-yard punt which gave Carson possession at its own 49.
On second-and-4, Quilling gained 27 yards on a counter down to the Damonte 18. Nolan scrambled for 10 yards down to the 8, and two plays later he found Pradere in the left corner of the end zone with a 5-yard TD pass for a 19-0 lead.
“That wasn’t a good pass on my part,” Nolan said.
Then came the first of Damonte’s fumbles. Smith gained six yards down to Carson’s 37, but coughed the ball up and Logan Peternell recovered at that spot.
On first down, Roman reached into his bag of tricks. Sawyers took a handoff and sprinted right, stopped and rifled a spiral to Pradere who got down to the 6. On the next play, Nolan found Quilling in the back of the end zone. The ball looked like it might go out of the end zone, but Quilling reached up with one hand and made the grab for a 25-0 lead.
“I wanted to throw it so he was the only one who could catch it,” Nolan said. “Luckily he made the play.”
“It was supposed to be a corner,” Quilling said. “I stopped (the pattern) and he led me to the back of the end zone.”
Damonte turned the ball over the next two times, and Carson took advantage of the second mistake when Peternell recovered at the Damonte 34.
Sawyers carried five straight times, finally scoring from the 1 to make it 31-0 at the half.
“I thought they did a good job defensively early,” Sawyers said. “I felt like I was a step slow at times. I thought the line did a great job of opening up some holes in the second half.”
Sawyers’ third 5-yard TD run made it 38-0, and then Damonte scored 10 straight points on a 1-yard run by Smith and a 28-yard field goal by Grant Cooper.
Carson did a good job of keeping Smith down in the first half, but he woke up in the second half and finished with 230 yards. It was the second straight week Carson has given up more than 200 yards rushing to an opposing quarterback.
“He (Smith) is a good player,” Roman said. “He did a nice job. I thought we did a good job defensively in the first half when we forced the fumbles. They spread us out, and that takes guys out of the box.”
Sawyers’ best run was probably his last scoring run, a 15-yarder. Operating from the short side of the field, Sawyers took a toss and then burst through an opening into the end zone.
“We like to run the toss to the short side,” Sawyers said. “I just waited for an opening.”
There wasn’t much of one, but Sawyers made it work.