Carroll County got off to a shaky start in its season opener against Floyd County, but took advantage of a couple of fortuitous bounces of the ball Friday to take charge and roll to a 55-14 thumping of the Buffaloes.
“I think our kids really rose to the occasion. This is a big win for us,” said Cavaliers Head Coach Tom Hale. “The last five or six years we’ve started the season off with Bassett; we’ve played well, but they’re always pretty good. It’s a big boost for us to start the season at 1-0.”
The game looked like it might be an offensive shootout after touchdowns were scored on the first three possessions of the game, resulting in a 14-7 Floyd lead. Carroll took over on its second possession at its own 27. Kendall Edwards picked up 17 yards on two running plays and Ethan Underwood 19 yards on three rushes as the Cavaliers moved for a first down at the Buffaloes’ 28. Three incomplete passes followed, but a personal foul penalty of 15 yards on Floyd gave Carroll a first down at the 18.
The first of two fumbles that may have turned the game around happened when Edwards lost control of the ball on a run around left end. The ball rolled and bounced as several Buffaloes tried to gain control, but the ball remained in the Cavaliers’ control when it eventually bounced out of bounds at the 3. The next play, Josh Blankenship took it in for the touchdown. Chase Goins tacked on the PAT to make it 14-14.
The only turnover of the game came on the kickoff when Floyd’s Joshua Bary coughed up the ball and Carroll’s Austin Spence recovered it at the Buffaloes’ 33. Quarterback Connor Lundy was sacked for a 7-yard loss on the Cavaliers’ first play, but the next one made up for it nicely as Lundy hit Duncan Reece in stride for a 40-yard scoring play to give the Cavaliers the lead for good.
Lundy and Reece proved a potent combination, connecting on four completions for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
“Connor and Duncan are two guys who really rose to the occasion,” said Hale. “Duncan is quick, he runs a 4.6 (40-yard sprint), and has good hands.”
Floyd picked up nine yards on its first two plays following the kickoff, but Carroll’s defense began making some big plays. Jacob Adams nailed quarterback Matthew Bary for a 3-yard loss and Jared Haga followed with a sack of Bary on fourth down.
Carroll took over at the Floyd 35 and needed just eight plays to score again. Edwards had an 11-yard run in the drive and Underwood got the score on a 1-yard plunge.
Floyd lost one yard on three plays and was forced to punt on its next possession, giving the ball to Carroll at the Floyd 49. Lundy and Blankenship hooked up on two completions for 39 yards and Edwards got the score on a 6-yard run. Goins’ fifth PAT made it 35-14.
The Cavaliers added another touchdown in the quarter when they drove 71 yards in five plays. Lundy and Reece had a big 42-yard completion in the drive and Lundy finished it off with a 6-yard scoring run.
Carroll scored on its first possession of the second half to seal the victory. Blankenship did much of the work in the drive, rushing for 32 yards and catching an 11-yard pass. He finished off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown. This time, Hugo Berenson got a chance at the PAT and made the most of it.
Although the Cavaliers’ offense was potent, rolling up 479 total yards, the defense was no slouch, especially in the second half when it limited the Buffaloes to just 83 yards of offense.
“Jared Haga had a tremendous night at defensive end and on offense at tight end; he didn’t come off the field the whole night,” said Hale. “Josh Blankenship also made some good plays.”
A lot of Cavaliers got some game time in the fourth quarter and one who made the most of his playing time was Brennan Vaught. On the last offensive play from scrimmage in the game, the 5-2, 120-pounder somehow made it through a mass of bodies in the middle of the line and scampered 84 yards for a touchdown.
Hale said his team’s loss to Galax in an exhibition game the previous week had a lot to do with Carroll’s success against Floyd.
“Galax is a good football team, they showed us a lot of things we needed to work on,” he said. “We played a lot better.”
Carroll County7 28 14 6 - 55
Floyd County1400 0 - 14
(FC) M. Bary 15 run (Policarpo kick)
(CC) Reece 21 pass from Lundy (Goins kick)
(FC) M. Bary 21 run (Policarpo kick)
(CC) Blankenship 3 run (Goins kick)
(CC) Reece 40 pass from Lundy (Goins kick)
(CC) Underwood 1 run (Goins kick)
(CC) Edwards 6 run (Goins kick)
(CC) Blankenship 6 run (Berenson kick)
(CC) Lundy 6 run (Berenson kick)
(CC) Vaught 84 run (no kick)
Passing yds. 18599