Watson leads Carson past Galena
RENO – If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Especially if the play is counter trey, and if Austin Watson is the one running it.
After tripping up and losing a fumble at the end of the first quarter, Carson High School’s Watson got an opportunity to run the counter trey at the end of the third quarter and broke it for a 78-yard touchdown that stood as the difference for the Senators in their 20-19 victory against Galena on Friday night.
Carson (1-2) rallied from an early 10-0 deficit and came back to post its first win of the season with the aid of some big plays on both sides of the ball. None was any bigger than Watson’s long touchdown run to erase a 19-14 Galena lead with 51 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“That was the counter trey,” Carson coach Shane Quilling said of Watson, who rushed for 148 yards on 15 carries. “That was the same play he fumbled on earlier in the game. It was wide open that time and he tripped over the blocker.”
Casey Ernst recovered that fumble for Galena (0-3), a play that led to a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Arnold to Tony Frische for a 10-0 lead.
Earlier, Carson had taken the opening kickoff and mounted a 16-play drive that took 9 minutes and 16 seconds off the clock, only to miss a golden opportunity to score first. An offside penalty on fourth-and-one forced the Senators to send Matt Mitchell out for a 42-yard field goal attempt which failed.
“That was huge right there,” Quilling said. “We put together a nine-minute drive and don’t score and then we fumble the ball away deep in our own territory. When you have the ball for nine minutes, you’ve got to score.”
The final score helped ease that disappointment, though.
“It’s a win and we’ll take a win anytime, no matter how ugly it is,” Quilling said. “And that’s a good (Galena) team. They were good everywhere. They flew to the ball, they played with a lot of pride and they played to win.”
The Grizzlies came into the game looking for their first win and first touchdown of the season.
“It was a good game; both teams played very hard,” Galena coach Steve Struzyk said. “I figured it was going to be one of those games that would be decided by the team that makes the last mistake. Unfortunately, that was us.”
He was referring to Galena’s last-ditch drive which ended on a lost fumble with 2:26 remaining. Carson simply ran out the clock after that to close out the win. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Galena mounted a nine-play drive to midfield (aided by a third down pass interference penalty) that ended with a punt.
“Our D gave us two big stops in the fourth quarter,” Quilling said. “That group is young. We have a lot of kids who haven’t played much before, but they really stepped up tonight.”
Galena took a 3-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the first quarter on Tyler Ewald’s 19-yard field goal. The drive was aided by Ben Fry’s 65-yard run. Fry rushed for 118 yards on 13 carries for the night.
Down 10-0 at the outset of the second quarter, Kyle Bacon took over at quarterback from Les Reddick and came up big on his first play from scrimmage, a 57-yard run on the option to Galena’s 18.
“Kyle came in and gave us a huge spark when we needed it,” Quilling said. “Les did a good job when he was in there, but with Kyle, we were able to run the inside veer for the first time and he broke that long run.”
Alex Martinez capped the drive moments later when he swept his right end for a four-yard touchdown run – Carson’s first offensive touchdown of the season.
Carson scored again on its next possession after Scott Witter made a diving interception of a pass to stop a Galena drive at the 12. On the next play, Bacon threw a 43-yard pass to Matt Moore. Then Watson busted a 38-yard run on a reverse, aided by a downfield block from center Eric Walther. Three plays later, Witter made a diving 11-yard catch of a pass from Bacon in the left corner of the end zone, giving Carson a 14-10 lead.
Galena took the second half kickoff and drove 74 yards in 11 plays, capped by Ryan Krueger’s 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-14 lead.
The Grizzies tacked on two more points on a safety moments later when Carson was stopped on three straight downs and then fumbled the snap on the fourth down punt attempt.
Carson’s defense held Galena on the next series to force a punt, then on second-and-eight, Watson got around his left end, eluded one defender at the 30 and raced the rest of the way untouched for the score.
“I thought the kids showed a lot of character tonight,” Struzyk said of his Grizzlies. “They have improved with every game, and that’s the No. 1 goal for any coach to keep improving.”
Galena scored on its first two possessions en route to an 18-6 win over Carson. Kyle Banko put Carson on the scoreboard on a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The Carson JV club plays the Damonte Ranch varsity next Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Reno.