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TAZEWELL ––Nobody’s clothes came off, but Tazewell put on a pretty decent strip show just the same.
Although thoroughly dominated in the first half, Tazewell twice pried the ball free from Carroll County ballcarriers in the second half, coming up with key turnovers as the Bulldogs rallied for a 27-16 win at Bulldog Stadium.
“Turnovers are something that we don’t normally do, and we had four of them tonight,” Carroll County coach Tom Hale said. “All of them were at critical times, when we had the ball on their side of the 50, except for the first one where we snapped it over the punter’s head, and all of them were on first-down runs. You can’t do that. Tazewell’s got a good football team, but if we don’t turn the ball over, we beat them.”
The Cavaliers (0-3 overall, 0-1 district) outgained the Bulldogs 180-55 in the first half and led 16-6 as the third quarter started, but Tazewell (3-0, 1-0) needed just three plays to get to within two points after taking the second half kickoff. Cody Lockhart connected with Dustin Pauley on a quick hitter in the left flat, and Pauley juked himself free of the lone Cavalier defender in his area, darting 44 yards to the end zone just 80 seconds into the second half. It was a case of a good player making those around him better. Carroll was loading up its defense to stop Wake Forest signee Matt Muncy, and Pauley’s reception came on the backside of that coverage.
“We were rolling our coverage to [Muncy], and they caught us,” Hale said. “Just that one time.”
Carroll County sustained a drive deep into Tazewell territory before losing the first of two second-half fumbles. Both came on crucial possession downs. A fourth-and-4 play resulted in a key15-yard gain to the Tazewell 27, but the Cavalier Zack Surratt was stripped of the ball on the way down, and the potential scoring drive was halted.
The two teams traded punts before the Bulldogs took the lead for good. Taking over at its own 44, Tazewell got 27 yards on four straight carries by Muncy. From the Cavalier 30, Cody Lockhart finished the drive, hitting Pauley for an 8-yard gain, and then scrambling before finding T.J. Rasnick open on a 22-yard scoring toss. The PAT was wide left, but the Bulldogs led 20-16 with 27 seconds left in the third quarter.
Another first-down carry for the Cavaliers resulted in a turnover as the Bulldogs pried the ball free and recovered at their own 46 early in the fourth period. Six plays later, Dustin Dean barged over from a yard out, and Colton Cook’s PAT had the Cavaliers trailing 27-16 with 8:44 to go.
Carroll would not get past the midfield stripe the rest of the night.
Other than Tazewell’s first offensive play, the first half couldn’t have gone better for the Cavaliers. A bad snap in punt formation gave the Bulldogs possession on the Carroll 15, and Muncy went untouched up the middle on the first play for a 6-0 Tazewell lead. From then until the half, Carroll County had its way. Quarterback Blake Bowman capped a seven-play, 62-yard drive, scoring on a 9-yard bootleg run. Ulisis Moreno’s kick put Carroll on top 7-6 at 5:26 of the first.
Cody Mabe blocked a Tazewell punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 9-6 lead, and the Cavaliers took the ensuing free kick and drove 51 yards for their second score. Eight running plays had Carroll at the 3, and Mabe bulled over from there. Mason King booted the PAT for a 16-6 Carroll lead.
Taking away the 26-yard loss on the botched punt snap, Carroll County outgained Tazewell on the ground 206-26 in the first half, with 15 of Tazewell’s yards coming on its first play. The Cavaliers gained 11 first downs to the Bulldogs’ two in that time.
“We thought we’d be able to run our veer and our midline, and all the big runs from the fullback in the first half were on veer and midline plays,” Hale said. “They adjusted, and we knew they would, but we still moved the ball on them. It got down to where they knew we had to pass, and they could do things then that took us out of our element.”
Carroll finished with 17 first downs and 285 yards of total offense to Tazewell’s nine first downs and 224 yards of offense. Dillon Caviness had 104 yards on 14 carries, Mabe added 75 yards on 16 attempts, Surratt finished with 60 on 10 tries and Bowman added 45 yards on 10 carries.
The Bulldogs were limited to 98 rushing yards, but Lockhart completed 7-of-15 passes for 126 yards, including thee completions and 77 yards by Pauley.
Carrollee^County 9 7 0 0––16
Tazewell 6 0 14 7––27
Taz–Muncy 15 run (Cook kick), 9:23
CC–Bowman 9 run (Moreno kick), 5:26
CC–Safety, punt blocked out of end zone, 3:46
CC–Mabe 3 run (King kick), 11:12
Taz–Pauley 44 pass from Lockhart (Muncy run), 10:14
Taz–Rasnick 22 pass from Lockhart (kick failed), 0:27
Taz–Dean 1 run (Cook kick), 8:44
First downs 17 9
Rushes-yards 33-268 23-98
Yards passing 17 126
Comp-Att-Int 1-8-0 7-15-0
Return yards 105 20
Punts-average 1-22.0 4-43.0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-40 5-51
RUSHING–Carroll County, Caviness 14-104, Mabe 16-75, Surratt 10-60, Bowman 10-45, Ayers 1-8, Huff 1-2,ee^Team 1-(-26). Tazewell, Muncy 11-66, Dean 6-37, Rasnick 1-1, Lockhart 4-(-2), Pauley 1-(-4).
PASSING–Carroll County, Nester 1-1-0-17, Mabe 0-1-0-0, Bowman 0-6-0-0. Tazewell, Lockhart 7-15-0-126.
RECEIVING–Carroll County, Mabe 1-17. Tazewell, Pauley 3-76, Rasnick 1-22, Muncy 2-19, Beavers 1-9.