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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. -- It wasn’t very difficult to spot the team trying to keep its season alive.
Needing a win to sneak into the postseason, Graham jumped on Carroll County early, weathered a Cavalier rally and lived to play another week, running away with a 35-14 Southwest District win on a magnificent Saturday afternoon at Mitchell Stadium. Carroll County (6-4 overall, 4-2 district) entered the game not only assured a playoff spot, but a home date in the first round as well, win or lose. The Cavaliers were playing for a No. 3 seed and a chance to avenge a season-opening loss to Bassett. Instead, as a 4-seed, they will host No. 5 Magna Vista (6-4) Friday in the Region IV Division 4 quarterfinals, with the winner traveling to Salem (10-0) next week. Cavalier coach Tom Hale felt his team was still reeling from a loss the previous week to Richlands in a SWD title showdown. “Just a repeat of 2005. We let [Richlands] beat us twice,” he said. “We didn’t play very well on either side of the ball, we didn’t call the right plays, it was just bad all the way around.” Graham (4-6, 4-2), which opened the season with five straight losses, will enter the Region IV Division 3 playoffs as the No. 5 seed and will travel to Tazewell Friday. Carroll rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to go into the half tied at 14, and had momentum in the palm of its hand when Tyler Reavis recovered a Graham fumble at the G-Men 36 just three plays into the third quarter. Though the drive stalled on an illegal block penalty, the Cavs were still in good shape as Ulisis Moreno’s punt pinned Graham at its own 1-yard line. Fourteen plays and 99 yards later, momentum – and the lead – were Graham’s for good. Quarterback David Marrs rambled for 23 yards on third-and-6 from his own 5, Tanner Howell had a 19-yard gain to the 48 and Marrs ran for another big third-down conversion, gaining 18 yards to the Carroll 38 on a third-and-14 play. Two completions to Torren Byrd moved Graham to the 10, and Marrs plunged over from a yard out on fourth down for a 21-14 lead with 3:02 left in the third. “We came out and held them and got a fumble, and we get that clipping call, and we still haven’t figured out who did that,” said Hale. “Then they go 99 yards and that put the nail in the coffin right there. We couldn’t answer.” Carroll County got as far as the Graham 33 before Jacob Bowling pounced on a Cavalier fumble at the 35, setting up a seven-play scoring drive that ended with Marrs darting up the middle from 10 yards out. Marrs ended Carroll’s next drive with an interception at the Graham 20, and Zach Mickel capped the scoring with a 4-yard burst with 1:22 to play. Marrs would lead all rushers with 111 yards on 15 attempts as four G-Men reached double figures in carries. Howell ran 10 times for 88 yards as Graham rolled up 260 yards on 50 rushes. Marrs was 10-of-16 passing for an additional 135 yards. Consecutive three-and-outs by the Cavaliers resulted in consecutive three-and-ins for the G-Men, who led 14-0 following two three-play possessions. The bulk of Howell’s yardage came on the G-Men’s third snap, when he raced 53 yards for the game’s initial score just 2:28 into the game. Marrs ran 38 yards to set up Graham’s second TD, an 11-yard grab by Byrd for a 14-0 lead less than halfway through the first. Graham had allowed 40 or more points in five of its first nine games, but held the Cavaliers without a first down for nearly 16 minutes until an ill-conceived fake punt attempt helped turn it around for Carroll. On fourth-and-10 from his own 27, Marrs tried to run for it out of punt formation before flipping the ball ahead to Howell, who was dragged down for a 13-yard loss at the 14 by Zack Surratt. Two plays later, Carroll got its initial first down on a 7-yard Surratt touchdown run, and Mason King’s PAT cut Graham’s lead in half 8:18 before intermission. Stopping Graham’s next drive on downs at the Cavalier 35, Carroll County smartly moved 65 yards in less than three minutes to tie the game with 28 seconds left in the half. Blake Bowman found Reavis open three times for 21 yards and Surratt scored on a criss-cross from 24 yards out. Surratt gained 82 of his team’s 125 rushing yards as the Cavaliers finished with 219 yards of offense. Bowman was 6-of-11 for 94 yards and two picks, with 57 yards coming on a Reavis streak in the final minute. “We’ve got a tough job to do this week,” said Hale. “We’ve got to get these kids up against a team that we can beat. They’re tough and they’re quick, but if we can get them ready to play I think we’ll be alright.” Carroll County 0 14 0 0––14 Graham 14 0 7 14––35
First quarter Gra–Howell 53 run (Pelts kick) 9:32 Gra–Byrd 11 pass from Marrs (Pelts kick) 6:25 Second quarter CC–Surratt 7 run (King kick) 8:18 CC–Surratt 24 run (King kick) 0:28 Third quarter Gra–Marrs 1 run (Pelts kick) 3:02 Fourth quarter Gra–Marrs 10 run (Pelts kick) 8:50 Gra–Mickel 4 run (Pelts kick) 1:22
CC Gra First downs 9 20 Rushes-yards 31-125 50-260 Yards passing 94 135 Comp-Att-Int 6-12-2 10-16-0 Return yards 91 139 Punts-average 5-39.0 1-38.0 Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-1 Penalties-yards 5-42 3-19
Individual statistics Rushing–Carroll County, Surratt 15-82, Caviness 7-31, Moreno 4-14, Huff 1-1, Bowman 4-(-3). Graham, Marrs 15-111, Howell 10-88, Jackson 12-33, Mickel 11-32, Sheets 2-(-4). Passing–Carroll County, Bowman 6-11-2-94, Caviness 0-1-0-0. Graham, Marrs 10-16-0-135. Receiving–Carroll County, Reavis 4-78, Surratt 2-16. Graham, Byrd 6-86, Jackson 1-39, Bokish 2-23, Howell 1-(-13).