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HILLSVILLE –– On a night when Carroll County won big on the field, it must have felt like a loss in the locker room after long-time head coach Tom Hale announced his plans to step down after 15 years at the helm of the Cavalier football team.
Hale met with the media following a dominating 77-28 victory at Tommy Thompson Field over neighboring Patrick County (0-10) and said he felt like it was time to move on.
“I thought we had a good chance to end on a high note,” Hale said speaking of the season ending win, his 78th win as the head coach of the Cavaliers. “Our kids played real well. We got adjusted at halftime to what they we’re doing offensively and we ended on a real high note.”
The Cavaliers (2-8) broke an eight-game losing streak, but the win came sloppy as Carroll finished the night with 215 yards in penalties on 18 flags.
“It was a sloppy game,” Hale said. “We haven’t had that many penalties all season long. The crew was calling it tight – especially on us.”
Carroll jumped ahead of the Cougars early, scoring on their first four possessions of the night.The Cavaliers had scoring drives of six plays, 65 yards (a minute and 59 seconds), two plays, 31 yards (0:14), five plays, 65 yards (1:24) and five plays, 48 yards (1:48) in the first quarter alone.
The first drive was capped by quarterback Connor Lundy when he pounded the ball in from the 1-yard line at the 10:01 mark of the first quarter, and the second was finished off when Ethan Underwood found space off the left side of the line for a five-yard touchdown run at the 8:33 mark.
Josh Blankenship added a one-yard run with 5:24 left in the first quarter to stretch the Cavalier lead to 22-0 and Kendall Edwards hauled in a 14-yard touchdown reception from Lundy with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
A senior, Lundy accounted for 318 yards passing and four touchdowns through the air and added another 147 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns.
Lundy was honored prior to kickoff Friday night for surpassing 4,200 yards and cemented his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks to play for Hale.
“I’ve had some good quarterbacks here in my time,” Hale said after the game. “But [Lundy] has been about the best one that I’ve coached. He’s smart and he really got patient in the pocket this year. He’s been a good leader and I’m proud of him and proud to be able to coach him.”
Lundy finished the night 14-of-23 and connected on touchdown passes of 13, 14, 26 and 42 yards. He ran the ball nine times for a career-best 147 and scored on runs of 1, 20 and 82 yards.
The second quarter included 50 total points, 28 of which came from the Cavalier offense.
Lundy scored on a run from 20 yards out with 10:42 left in the half and Bowman hauled in a Lundy pass from 13 yards out with 7:37 left in the half.
Underwood managed to score two more times in the first half, reaching the end zone from four yards out with 2:17 left on the ground and catching a 42-yard pass from Lundy with 50 seconds left in the second quarter.
Lundy added a 26-yard touchdown pass to Trace Davis late in the third quarter and an 82-yard touchdown run of his own early in the fourth.
Dylan Stiltner provided the final six points for the Cavaliers, scoring on his only carry of the night from 25 yards out.
Chase Goins finished the night 3-for-3 on extra points, while Hugo Berensten was 5-of-6.
The Cavaliers scored a school-record 77 points on the final game of the season, having come into Friday night averaging only 18 per game.
Carroll’s debut season in the River Ridge District proved to be as difficult as expected and Hale said his Cavaliers are at a disadvantage in the new district being matched against traditional power house schools such as Pulaski County, Christiansburg and Salem.
“The new district is tough,” Hale continued.
On his final night as the head coach, his offense shined, putting up video game type numbers.
The Cavaliers finished with 735 total yards, 417 of which came on the ground. As impressive as the offense was, the defense shined as well, holding the Cougars to minus-4 yards rushing.
Patrick managed 282 yards through the air but turned the ball over on four interceptions.
The Cavaliers were three plays away from holding the Cougars to only one touchdown.
Breakdowns in coverage on three different occasions (51, 57 and 67 yards) led to three quick scoring drives for the Cougars and kept the score much closer than it could have been.
Following the game, Hale said it was a tough choice to step aside after 31 years of coaching – 15 of which have been as the head coach in Carroll.
“It was a tough decision,” he said. “I just feel like it’s time for a new approach here. I need to step back and do something else.”
Hale steps aside as the all-time winningest head coach of the Cavaliers and said he was proud of what he had accomplished over his time in Carroll and of his coaches for standing by his side.
“I can look back and have a lot of pride in what I got started here,” he said.
Carroll Co. 77, Patrick Co. 28
Patrick County.........6 22 0 0––28
Carroll County.......29 28 7 13––77
CC–Lundy 1 run Blankenship pass from Lundy) 10:01
CC–Underwood 5 run (Goins kick) 8:33
CC–Blankenship 1 run (Goins kick) 5:24
CC–Edwards 14 pass from Lundy (Goins kick) 2:50
PC–Gilles 57 pass from Penn (run failed) 1:23
CC–Lundy 20 run (Berentsen kick) 10:42
PC–Rodriguez 13 pass from Penn (Hutchins pass from Penn)
CC–Bowman 13 pass from Lundy (Berentsen kick) 7:37
PC–Rodriguez 51 pass from Penn (Hutchins pass from Penn) 4:20
CC–Underwood 4 run (Berentsen kick) 2:17
PC–Gilles 41 pass from Penn (run failed) 1:51
CC–Underwood 42 pass from Lundy (Berentsen kick) 0:50
CC–Davis 26 pass from Lundy (Berentsen kick) 4:20
CC–Lundy 82 run (kick failed) 10:27
CC–Stiltner 25 run (Berentsen kick) 4:53
First downs 14 24
Rushes-yards 13-(-4) 30-417
Yards passing 282 318
Comp-Att-Int 16-45-4 14-23-0
Return yards 238 20
Punts-average 3-19.0 1-38.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 7-50 18-215
RUSHING—Patrick County, Martin 2-4, Katzer 3-2, Johnson 4-(-4), Penn 4-(-6). Carroll County, Lundy 9-147, Blankenship 8-144, Underwood 7-72, Stiltner 1-24, Edwards 3-23, Goins 2-6.
PASSING–Patrick County, Penn 16-45-4-282. Carroll County, Lundy 14-23-0-318.
RECEIVING–Patrick County, Martin 10-141, Gilles 3-126, Hylton 1-9, Carnes 1-7, Tickle 1-(-1). Carroll County, Davis 4-114, Underwood 2-55, Blankenship 2-49, Reece 2-46, Bowman 2-31, Edwards 2-23.