Hurricane Matthew had come and gone, but Carroll County head football coach Eddie Sloss considered Monday’s game with Hidden Valley a disaster of a different kind.
Playing three days later than originally expected because of the heavy rain that saturated the Southeast over the weekend, the Cavaliers lost 48-6 Monday night in Hillsville in a River Ridge District contest. Hidden Valley senior Ryan Mitchell returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for the night. Mitchell would go on to intercept a pair of Cavalier passes in the first quarter and quarterback Jonah Fitzgerald threw for 196 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Titans rolled.
“I’m disappointed in the way we played. We just have to make plays. Offensively we’ve got to figure out a way to quit getting holding penalties, fumbling the ball and just shooting ourselves in the foot, just the basics,” Sloss said. “(We have to) keep our defense off the field, and when our defense is on the field learn how to guard a receiver and how to make a tackle. I feel like we took a step back tonight. I don’t feel like we got any better. It’s really kind of disappointing. As always I am proud of the kids’ effort, but I don’t think we took a step (forward).”
Carroll County (1-5, 0-3 River Ridge District) was held to 162 yards of offense for the game. Before the final drive of the contest, the Cavaliers only had 64 yards until Tristen Ousley led a 77-yard drive – one that actually covered 98 yards after penalties. Ousley, who led Carroll with 126 rushing yards on 15 carries, busted a 59-yard run on the drive before capping it with a 12-yard touchdown run. But before that it was tough sledding for the Cavaliers.
“We have to find a way to get first downs,” Sloss said.
After Mitchell’s long kickoff return to open the contest, Fitzgerald scored on a 2-yard run to put the Titans up 14-0 after one quarter. He tossed touchdown passes of 20 and 18 yards in the second quarter before adding another TD run to end the half with a 33-0 Hidden Valley lead.
After a safety midway through the third quarter, Fitzgerald threw his third touchdown of the game. The Titans tacked on one more score in the fourth before the Cavaliers got on the board with Ousley’s touchdown.
Win or lose Monday night, the Cavaliers are already well behind schedule for this Friday’s home game with Cave Spring. Carroll will have just three days to recover from Monday’s matchup to get ready for the Knights. Sloss said he wanted to play Friday night in the weather conditions, but the decision was not his to make. He said he sought advice from a coaching friend on how to handle a short week.
“People I don’t think understand, football is not like basketball, you just can’t play (on three day’s rest) especially at the varsity level. Hidden Valley doesn’t have a game next week, this was nothing for them. Cave Spring was probably here tonight scouting us, have had all week to prepare,” Sloss said. “I would like to give the guys a day off (Tuesday), but we can’t because then we would just have two days to prepare. I have already done work on my end, scouring them offensively and defensively, but we have to find a way to get first downs.”
H. Valley 14 19 9 6 – 48
Carroll Co. 0 0 0 6 – 6
HV – Mitchell 95 kick return (Driscoll kick)
HV – Fitzgerald 3 run (Driscoll kick)
HV – Farmer 20 pass from Fitzgerald (kick failed)
HV – Dalton 18 pass from Fitzgerald (kick failed)
HV – Fitzgerald 1 run (Driscoll kick)
HV – Safety (punter tackled in end zone)
HV – Dalton 20 pass from Fitzgerald (Driscoll kick)
HV – Wilson 4 run (kick failed)
CC – Ousley 12 run (kick failed)
First Downs 18 8
Rushes-Yards 33-165 41-152
Passing 12-18-0 3-8-2
Passing Yards 196 10
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-0
Penalties-Yards 2-20 4-45
Possession 19:06 28:54
RUSHING – Bennett 17-74, Fitzgerald 10-59, Wilson 5-25, Mitchell 1-7.
PASSING – Fitzgerald 12-18-0 196 yds.
RECEIVING – Mitchell 4-61, Dalton 3-56, Farmer 2-40, Taylor 2-24, Arner 1-15.
RUSHING – Ousley 15-126, Trudell 12-29, Wells 7-25, Team 3-minus 10, B. Vaught 4-minus 18.
PASSING – B. Vaught 3-7-2 10 yds., Team 0-1-0 0 yds.
RECEIVING – Taylor 1-5, Ousley 1-3, Trudell 1-2.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN