Carroll County went toe-to-toe with defending 1A state champion Galax on Friday for a half, but in the end the Maroon Tide were just too big and too strong for the Cavaliers in a 47-16 win in the annual benefit game in Hillsville.
Led by a 58-yard scoop and score by Jarod Sawyers and a pair of long runs on QB sneaks by 5-3 quarterback Pokey Vaught, the Cavaliers found themselves in a dogfight with Galax, trailing just 21-16 at the half. Blake Brown ran for 130 yards and five touchdowns and Dougie Peoples racked up 292 rushing yards, however, as the Tide rolled Carroll 26-0 in the second half.
“I don’t know that we had better athletes, I thought we were a lot stronger. They were going to struggle with our run,” Galax head coach Mark Dixon said. “Overall I think we are just bigger and stronger and I think that wore on them as the game went on.”
Carroll County head coach Eddie Sloss echoed those sentiments. While the Cavaliers played well at times, they still had a hard time stopping Galax’s rushing attack. In total the Maroon Tide ran for 417 yards on 41 carries and finished with 529 yards of total offense to Carroll’s 250.
“You have to love the weight room and obviously those guys do. They are there four or five days a week and they watch a lot of film. It’s just one of those things where they are well coached across the board and they are big and strong. There is nothing you can do,” Sloss said. “They have a good scheme and they have guys who can find the holes. That is what you need. You have the guys up front to block it and the guys in the back to find the holes and it just weighs on you, over and over and over. They just beat up on you, but that is the quality of a good football team.”
The Cavaliers certainly gave the home crowd a lot to cheer about in the opening half. Carroll jumped out to a 6-0 lead five minutes into the game when defensive lineman Dylon Leonard sacked Galax quarterback Carson Orton, causing the ball to squirt free into the hands of a willing Sawyers, who toted the loose pigskin 58 yards for a score.
Galax answered less than three minutes later as Brown ran in the rock from two yards out for a 7-6 Maroon Tide lead. He would add a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Peoples’ 25-yard score following an interception put Galax ahead 21-6 with 7:10 left in the opening half.
Carroll responded on the very next play from scrimmage as the small, but speedy Vaught caught everybody off-guard with a QB sneak up the middle. Blowing past an unsuspecting Galax line and linebackers, the 5-3 Vaught easily scooted in for an 80-yard score. Logan Cole’s extra point trimmed the lead to 21-13.
Following a long drive, Galax fumbled again at the Carroll 28. On the next play, Vaught caught Galax’s defense sleeping for a second time, slipping through the line undetected and making a juke move in the secondary en route to a 69-yard run to the Galax 3. While the Cavs couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone, Cole’s 23-yard field goal on the last play of the half cut the Galax lead to 21-16.
“We have a history of it because we read our keys sometimes to such the extreme that we see nothing else,” Dixon, who was frustrated after the game by Galax’s 16 penalties, said of the two long runs. “It was two huge plays for them, but I don’t think our kids were panicked at halftime. These kids have won a lot of ballgames and they know when to push the gas when they need to push the gas.”
Sloss said while the Cavaliers didn’t make many stops throughout the game, they made just enough to make the first half interesting.
“We were within striking distance, but their size and their strength, just overpowering. I have to go back and look at the film, but like I told our guys in the locker room, they are a good football team and we are just not there yet. We will be and we are working on it, but hat’s off to them,” Sloss said. “That is a good football team and I know they are state champs for a reason. They lost a lot, but they find a way to come back every year.”
Sloss said Carroll went with the two unconventional QB sneaks because Galax was loading up against the Cavalier halfbacks. The tactic worked in making the Maroon Tide switch up some things defensively, but it still didn’t help a Carroll offense that managed just 76 yards of offense besides Vaught’s 12 rushes for 174 yards.
“They were keying our halfbacks and we just haven’t evolved into a heavy fullback team yet and so I figured if they were keying our halfbacks then we were just going to send Pokey up the pipe,” Sloss said. “By doing that it forced them to cover those A gaps. And so we kind of got them to do what we wanted them to do but it didn’t matter. We still couldn’t run between the tackles because they do such a great job up front. Those guys are hosses and they do a good job of getting their hands on our offensive linemen and squeezing and getting off blocks.”
Carroll will hope to build off the positives from the scrimmage this Friday when it hosts Floyd County at 7 p.m. in the regular season opener at Tommy Thompson Field.
Galax 7 14 19 7 – 47
Carroll 6 10 0 0 – 16
CC – Sawyers 58 fumble return (kick failed)
G – Brown 2 run (Medina kick)
G – Brown 6 run (Medina kick)
G – Peoples 25 run (Medina kick)
CC – Vaught 80 run (Cole kick)
CC – Cole 23 field goal
G – Brown 3 run (Medina kick)
G – Peoples 41 run (kick blocked)
G – Brown 5 run (kick blocked)
G – Brown 23 run (Harrison kick)
First Downs 19 7
Rushes-Yards 41-417 34-194
Passing 4-8-0 4-6-1
Passing Yards 112 56
Fumbles-Lost 4-2 2-0
Penalties-Yards 16-115 2-25
Possession 22:53 25:07
RUSHING – Peoples 22-292, Brown 14-130, Dickson 2-2, Team 2-1, Orton 1-minus 8.
PASSING – Orton 4-8-0 112 yds.
RECEIVING – Spurlin 2-60, Hutchens 2-52.
RUSHING – Vaught 12-174, Ousley 5-18, Wells 8-11, Dalton 3-2, Rotenizer 1-2, Trudell 5-minus 13.
PASSING – Vaught 4-6-1 56 yds.
RECEIVING – Wells 2-25, Taylor 1-25, Ousley 1-6.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN