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INDEPENDENCE –– Carroll County survived a 28-point Grayson County rally and used a two-point conversion in overtime to escape Grayson County with a 36-35 win in a nondistrict game Friday at Bill Strong Field.
Having surrendered 338 yards and 28 points before halftime, the Blue Devils (3-2) were on the verge of being run off their own field before a timely interception in their own end zone, an accidental onside kick and a no-quit attitude resulted in four unanswered touchdowns, including a 1-yard run by quarterback Ethan Hash on Grayson’s overtime possession for the Devils’ first lead of the game. Mario Ruiz’s PAT had Grayson up 35-28, but Carroll County (3-2) answered with a 2-yard plunge by Bowman on third down to pull to within a point.
With a wounded kicker, the outcome hinged on the two-point try. Bowman rolled to his right, slipped through the Grayson rush and fired a low bullet to Kody Alley just across the goal line. Alley dropped to his knees to make the catch for the winning points.
“We flooded the side [Bowman] was rolling to, and he had a run-pass option,” Carroll coach Tom Hale said. “They were playing man-to-man and our wideout was supposed to drag across to the other side of the field, but him and [Alley] were both standing there wide open. Luckily Blake didn’t get sacked, and he threw that pass in there.”
“The quarterback just made a great play,” Grayson coach Brett McPherson said. “We were anticipating a run, and we were in man coverage, but we got great pressure on him and got some hands on him, but he’s a senior quarterback and he made a really good play.”
The Cavaliers had their way with the Blue Devils in taking a 28-7 halftime lead, and though Grayson drove 63 yards in 10 plays to open the second half, ending with a 10-yard Hash scramble for a TD and a 28-14 score, Grayson still hadn’t found a way to make a stop until Nathan Cowley stepped in front of a Bowman pass in the end zone.
“We scored on that first drive, which was an objective, then things started happening,” McPherson said, “and the next thing you know we’re back in it,”
The Cavaliers had moved from their own 33 to a first down at the Grayson 13 with four running plays before Cowley’s pick turned things around.
“That interception changed the complete momentum of the game,” Hale said. “From there our kids just hung on. We were getting ready to put the nail in the coffin and we threw the interception. We just didn’t make a good read.”
The two teams traded punts and Grayson took over on its own 31, soon to trim the lead to 28-21 with a 19-yard Xavier Rodriguez scamper with 8:05 to play.
The ensuing kickoff was an unintentional pooch kick that bounded around until being pounced on by Grayson’s Jerel Smith at the Carroll 40. Six plays later Rodriguez was in the end zone again, tying the game with a 13-yard run followed by a Ruiz PAT at 5:30 of the fourth.
“You’re down 28-7 at halftime, you don’t really think about winning, you’re just thinking, ‘Let’s get the football back and go score, ’ ” McPherson said. “Then we get a couple of breaks and things started going our way. But I’m proud of the kids. They played their guts out.”
Carroll was able to get as close as the Grayson 15 as time ticked away, but Ulises Moreno’s 32-yard field goal attempt hooked barely wide left, ending regulation with a 28-28 deadlock. Also a starting runningback and defensive back, Moreno was used solely for placekicking after sustaining a knee injury in the second quarter.
“They think maybe he tore his MCL,” Hale said. “That’s why I went for two at the end. He missed one [PAT] and then he missed the field goal, and we just didn’t want to take a chance. But that was the best thing for us to do, on the road.”
Even getting to overtime was remarkable for the Blue Devils, who saw the Cavaliers run for 280 yards in the first half, including 204 in the opening quarter. Jacob Mollet scored on runs of 21 and 5 yards for a 14-0 lead after eight minutes.
Grayson answered with an 8-yard Hash touchdown run, but the score seemed to be just a speedbump for the Cavaliers, who added a 1-yard Bowman run and a 6-yard score by Ryne Ayers to take a comfortable 28-7 lead into the half.
McPherson wondered if the Devils would ever be able to stop the fullback trap.
“They do a good job running that,” he said. “They’re crisp and they do a good job. We were trying to plug the A gap and they were taking the trap out one man further. They were just whipping our tail up front.”
Carroll County outgained Grayson 460-274, including 386 yards on the ground, led by Logan Hodges with 101 yards on 10 carries. Moreno added 95 yards on five attempts and Mollet ran six times for 65 yards. Alley and Bowman contributed 55 and 53 yards, respectively.
Moreno’s and Mollet’s rushing totals all came in the first quarter.
Grayson County got 91 second-half yards from Rodriguez, who finished with 102 yards on 22 carries. Hash completed 4-of-12 passes, two each to Eric Harvey (55 yards) and Mikey Rodgers (31 yards).
“We had a couple of guys out and they hit a couple of quick pitches to the replacement kids’ side,” Hale said. “They mixed it up well. They were running the big guy [Darren Anderson] inside, we just didn’t execute very well defensively.”
“You’re just sick, but you’ve got to see the big picture, too,” McPherson said. “I saw the effort and the potential. If we can string four quarters together like we did those last two, we’re going to be a very good football team.”
Carroll County.........14 14 0 0 8––36
Grayson County.......7 0 7 14 7––35
CC–Mollet 21 run (Moreno kick) 9:34
CC–Mollet 5 run (Moreno kick) 4:03
GC–Hash 8 run (Ruiz kick) 1:37
CC–Bowman 1 run (kick failed) 5:03
CC–Ayers 6 run (Bowman run) 0:27
GC–Hash 10 run (Ruiz kick) 7:07
GC–Rodriguez 19 run (Ruiz kick) 8:05
GC–Rodriguez 13 run (Ruiz kick) 5:30
GC–Hash 1 run (Ruiz kick)
CC–Bowman 2 run (Alley pass from Bowman)
First downs 17 15
Rushes-yards 52-386 43-188
Passing yards 74 86
Comp-Att-Int 3-9-1 4-12-0
Return yards 54 47
Punts-average 3-25.3 4-31.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 8-67 2-6
RUSHING—Carroll County, Hodges 10-101, Moreno 5-95, Mollet 6-65, Alley 15-55, Bowman 10-53, Ayers 6-17. Grayson County, Rodriguez 22-102, Anderson 9-53, Hash 12-33.
PASSING–Carroll County, Bowman 3-9-1-74. Grayson County, Hash 4-12-0-86
RECEIVING–Carroll County, Willard 1-46, Alley 1-16, Hodges 1-12. Grayson County, Harvey 2-55, Mk.Rodgers 2-31.