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HILLSVILLE –– For the second straight year, Carroll County threw a dominant defensive effort at Martinsville. This time around, the Cavaliers were smiling while exiting the field.
Carroll County picked up its first victory of the season by forcing four turnovers and pulling away for a 36-16 nondistrict win Friday on homecoming night at Tommy Thompson Field.
“I’m really proud of them,” Cavalier coach Tom Hale said. “These kids never give up. They haven’t given up all year. There’s been times when we didn’t make plays, but we really stepped up tonight, especially defensively, and made good plays when we needed to … Our defense really only gave up one touchdown tonight, and a trick play on that, so I’m real, real happy.”
It was a defensive score by Martinsville (0-5) that threatened to send the Cavaliers into the half with their heads down. Taj Taylor picked up a fumble following a sack and raced 58 yards for a touchdown and a 16-7 Bulldog lead with just 2:36 left in the first half. Carroll County found the end zone twice before the end of the half and never relinquished momentum after that.
Following Taylor’s score, Patrick Davis fielded the kickoff at his own 8, was hemmed in by a mob in the middle of the field before bouncing outside and racing 92 yards for a touchdown. Ryan Ruiz’s PAT pulled the Cavs to within 16-14 with 2:17 left in the second period.
Martinsville hustled to as far as the Carroll 22 before Lucas Holder pounced on a Bulldog fumble with 1:11 to go, and opting not to kill the rest of the clock, the Cavaliers went to work. A 19-yard Jake Dillon run to the Cav 41 on third-and-10 kept the possession alive, and Conner Lundy hit Chris Smoot on a 15-yard out pattern on the next play. Instead of stepping out of bounds to stop the clock, Smoot broke through three tackles and raced the remaining 45 yards for a touchdown, and Dillon’s two-point run put Carroll up 22-16 38 seconds before the half.
“That was an unbelievable turnaround,” said Hale. “I was debating whether to run out the clock and go in and get adjusted, but we decided to go into our two-minute offense, and Chris made a fantastic run after the catch. We were all yelling, ‘Get out of bounds, get out of bounds,’ and he just kept going and made a heck of a run. He had a great game.”
Carroll County picked up 12 first downs to Martinsville’s four in the first half and limited the Bulldogs to 85 yards of offense before the break, 43 of that coming on a touchdown run by Larry Perkins.
Lundy was 8-of-12 passing for 155 yards in the first half, with Smoot catching five passes for 120 yards and the one TD.
Carroll County scored on its initial possession of the second half, driving 59 yards in eight plays. Josh Blankenship started the series with a 28-yard carry to the Bulldog 31 and Lundy finished it with a 1-yard plunge at 5:02 of the third. Dillon’s successful run for two had the Cavaliers up 30-16.
Martinsville quickly worked to inside the Cavalier 10-yard line before Smoot ended the threat with an interception in the end zone. The Cavaliers were unable to capitalize offensively on the takeaway, but used another picklater to seal the win. Martinsville had a first down at the Carroll 28 when linebacker Kody Alley sniffed out a screen pass, stepped in front of Cedric Tarpley’s toss at the line of scrimmage and sprinted untouched 72 yards for a touchdown and a 20-point lead.
Carroll outgained the Bulldogs 331-197 with an almost perfect balance between the run and the pass. Lundy finished the night 9-of-14 for 165 yards, and Dillon’s 80-yard effort on 16 carries led the Cavaliers’ 166-yard rushing effort.
“Offensively we got the job done when we needed to,” Hale said. “We knew it would be tough, because they’re tough and they’re big.”
Smoot, in addition to his 120 receiving yards, also had two interceptions and two passes broken up.
Carroll’s first win couldn’t have come at a better time as Southwest District play commences this Friday at home against Abingdon.
“Last year at this time we lost a heartbreaker [at Martinsville] and we went into district play at 0-5, and getting this first win going into the district is going to mean a lot for these guys,” said Hale.
Martinsville...........8 8 0 0––16
Carroll County......7 15 8 6––36
CC–Dillon 4 run (Ruiz kick) 7:15
M–Perkins 43 run (Tarpley run) 4:17
M–Taylor 58 fumble return (Perkins pass from Tarpley) 2:36
CC–Davis 92 kickoff return (Ruiz kick)
CC–Smoot 59 pass from Lundy (Dillon run) 0:38
CC–Lundy 1 run (Dillon run) 5:02
CC–Alley 78 interception return (kick failed) 7:01
First downs 9 18
Rushes-yards 30-97 40-166
Yards passing 100 165
Comp-Att-Int 4-11-3 9-15-0
Return yards 93 177
Punts-average 4-33-8 2-43.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-56 4-43
RUSHING—Martinsville, Perkins 5-49, Tarpley 11-20, Garcia 5-16, Taylor 5-9, Hodge 3-3, Waller 1-0. Carroll County, Dillon 16-80, Blankenship 7-51, Davis 7-37, Alley 3-26, Lundy 7-(-28).
PASSING–Martinsville, Tarpley 4-11-3-100. Carroll County, Lundy 9-14-0-165, Alley 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING–Martinsville, Garcia 2-70, Perkins 1-16, Powell 1-14. Carroll County, Smoot 5-120, Case 3-35, Reece 1-10.