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INDEPENDENCE –– It took Carroll County the better part of the first half before it found its groove offensively. The way the Cavaliers played defense, though, that was all the time in the world.
Carroll County didn’t get its initial first down until nearly two minutes into the second quarter, but it came on a 60-yard touchdown run by Zack Surratt that opened up a 21-point binge, leading to a 35-0 Cavalier win in a nondistrict game Friday at Bill Strong Field.
Held to four plays on each of its first two offensive series, the Cavaliers (1-3) finally found life early in the second quarter when Surratt took an inside reverse and broke free on his long TD run. The first of five Mason King PAT kicks put Carroll County on top for good with 10:02 left in the half.
Having made it through the first 12 minutes in great shape, it seemed like the second quarter couldn’t end soon enough for the Blue Devils (0-4). Following the Surratt touchdown, the Cavaliers’ Lucas Marshall picked off a Ben Osborne pass and returned it 24 yards to the Grayson County 19-yard line. Six plays later, Dillon Caviness burst through from the 1 for a 14-0 lead midway through the second period.
“They were taking some things away, and it took us a while to figure out what they were doing,” said Cavalier coach Tom Hale. “We made some adjustments and got some field position, and found out what we could do. They had a hard time with our sweep. They missed some tackles, but our backs were running hard and making them miss.”
A quick defensive stop and good clock management allowed the Cavaliers to add a score late in the half. A Grayson punt to the Carroll 38 left the Cavaliers 3:07 to move the 62 yards, and Carroll covered the distance in nine plays. Sophomore quarterback Blake Bowman had a 15-yard carry to the Grayson 26 and completed a pair of passes from there, including a quick out pattern to Caviness from the 14. Caviness made the catch at the 10 and sprinted in for the score with 28 seconds left in the half for a 21-0 Carroll County lead.
“I thought our defense played really good,” said Grayson County coach Brett McPherson, “but our margin for error is so slim. We’ve got to wrap up on tackles, we can’t turn the football over, we’re just not making the plays we need to to win football games.”
The Cavalier defense limited the Blue Devils to 44 yards of total offense and four first downs in the first half and was nearly as stout in the second half, giving up 48 yards and three first downs. Grayson County was held scoreless for the second straight week, the first time in school history that the Devils have suffered consecutive shutout losses.
“I’m not going to say it’s time to hit the panic button,” said McPherson. “We’ve just got to go back to work and try to keep getting better. Right now we’re not a very good football team and I’m not getting them very well prepared, so we’ve all got a lot of work to do.”
“Last week I thought our defense played well, but tonight, just an excellent job by our defensive front and our linebackers,” Hale said. “We shut them down and they got us some turnovers that set us up in good field position, and with the field position we got, it’s easy to call plays.”
Carroll County tacked on a pair of third-quarter scores, then held on as the clock ran continuously through the fourth quarter with a 35-point margin. Cody Mabe blocked a punt for the second straight week, this time setting up the Cavaliers at the Grayson County 26. Three plays later, Caviness wriggled out of a pile-up at the line of scrimmage and broke loose on a 19-yard scoring run, his third TD of the night, with 3:13 left in the third.
Grayson County turned the ball over on downs at its own 38, and Bowman capped the scoring from there on the next play, squirting through the line and outrunning the secondary on a 38-yard play.
“These kids deserved it, they really did,” Hale said. “They were starting to question themselves a little bit, I think, and tonight they completely dominated it on the defensive side. We’ve got a good football team, we’ve just got to get it all together for four quarters.”
Carroll County’s offensive numbers were fairly modest considering the five-touchdown performance. The Cavaliers finished with nine first downs and 251 yards of total offense, including 229 on the ground. Surratt led the way with 101 yards on nine attempts and Bowman added 53 yards on four carries.
Ryan Hernandez had all but 10 yards of Grayson’s ground total, finishing with 58 yards on 18 rushes.
Carroll Count hosts William Byrd this week, while the Blue Devils open MED play at Narrows.
Carroll Co. 35, Grayson Co. 0
Carroll County 0 21 14 0––35
Grayson County 0 0 0 0–– 0
CC–Surratt 60 run (King kick) 10:07
CC–Caviness 1 run (King kick) 5:36
CC–Caviness 14 pass from Bowman (King kick) 0:28
CC–Caviness 19 run (King kick) 3:13
CC–Bowman 38 run (King kick) 1:30
First downs 9 7
Rushes-yards 32-229 35-68
Yards passing 22 24
Comp-Att-Int 2-6-1 4-11-2
Return yards 68 95
Punts-average 3-28.0 3-36.3
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 2-10 5-33
RUSHING–Carroll County, Surratt 9-101, Bowman 4-53, Mabe 6-38, Caviness 5-27, Huff 7-10, Nester 1-0. Grayson County, Hernandez 18-58, Osborne 11-11, Larreta 3-6, Watson 1-2, Bowen 1-0, Team 1-(-9).
PASSING–Carroll County, Bowman 2-6-1-22. Grayson County, Osborne 4-11-2-24.
RECEIVING–Carroll County, Cavi-ness 1-14, Surratt 1-8. Grayson County, Thompson 1-14, Harvey 1-7, Hernandez 2-3.