After Friday’s season opener at Floyd, Carroll County head coach Eddie Sloss told his Cavaliers they did many bad things, but also did many good things. Fortunately for the visitors, Carroll did a couple more good things than bad en route to a 30-28 victory over the Buffaloes.
Chief among those bad things for Carroll County (1-0) was the tendency to give up the big play, particularly at times when the Cavaliers seemed to have the momentum. After rallying to take a 16-14 lead at the half, Carroll quickly fell behind again as Ian Bary returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 83 yards for a score.
And after the Cavs went ahead 30-22 on Brennan Vaught’s 77-yard touchdown catch with five minutes to play, Carroll appeared to have the game in hand when Chanz Quesenberry flattened Floyd defensive back Clayton Howard on an apparent 31-yard touchdown run. The score was negated by a holding penalty, however, and the Cavs turned the ball over on downs with 1:30 to play. Two plays later, Bary caught an over-the-shoulder catch in stride from Floyd quarterback Brady Underwood and took it 67 yards to the house. But on the ensuing 2-point conversion that would have tied the game, Carroll’s Logan Cole brought Jack March down for a loss, helping his team hang on for the win.
“It’s a great feeling. I felt like we had a good week of practice. Tonight we came out kind of flat and they started running the ball fairly well on us, and just penalties galore. We finally settled down and things went our way and we got some momentum at halftime,” Sloss said. “But then we had the opening kickoff, we just had a couple of guys running down the field lose their lanes. We have to fix some things on special teams this week. And defensively we are giving up the big plays once again. We are going to have to do some soul searching in the defensive backfield and try to find some guys who can play and guys who want to play. I am not real keen on the idea of bringing up freshmen and sophomores, but I am at the point now that we will do what we got to do because I don’t want big plays to beat us when you have your interior eight play so dadgum hard all game long.”
While Carroll’s defensive backfield struggled, the run defense was stout after getting gashed on the opening drive. Jack March, who rushed for 100 yards on 21 carries, put the Buffaloes ahead 7-0 with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
The Cavaliers got back into the game thanks to an opportunistic defense that forced five fumbles and three turnovers in the first half, all of which were converted into points. Carroll scored two touchdowns in a span of eight seconds early in the second quarter. Floyd fumbled on the second play of the period, coughing the ball up at its own 32. Colin Wells was in the end zone five plays later on a 3-yard touchdown run.
On the very next play after the kickoff, Jared Mollett picked up another Buffalo fumble and rumbled 19 yards into the end zone, giving Carroll a 13-7 lead. After Floyd answered with a touchdown to regain the lead, another fumble gave the Cavs the ball at the Buffaloes’ 30. Again, Carroll capitalized as Chase Goins booted a 34-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half to put his team in front 16-14 at intermission.
“We work turnovers all the time, so we are working on stripping, we are working on scooping and scoring. Before the game we do three defensive drills, two of them are tackling, but the other one was stripping, and scooping and scoring,” Sloss said. “We are constantly trying to rip the ball out, scoop and score. I don’t know if it was a lack of ball security on their part or our kids were just really violent trying to get the ball out, but I give our kids the credit because that is something we rep everyday just like tackling. Other than the big plays I am very proud of the defense.”
Floyd’s second-half lead was short lived after Bary’s kickoff return touchdown to open the third quarter. Carroll answered with a 10-play, 65-yard drive capped by James Dalton’s 6-yard touchdown run. Goins’ extra point gave the Cavs a 23-22 advantage midway through the third.
The defense came up big on the ensuing possession, stuffing Floyd on 4th and Inches from the Carroll 46. The Cavs squandered the chance at the Floyd 25, however, when a high snap gave the Buffs the ball back. After three straight completed passes gained 54 yards, Floyd decided to run the football on 4th and Goal from the Carroll 5. Again, the Cavs’ run-defense came up big with the stop.
Carroll finally got some breathing room five plays later when quarterback Chase Robinson hooked up with Vaught on a pass to the flats. Vaught made a terrific move to juke a defender, then turned on the jets on the 77-yard touchdown to give the Cavs a 30-22 lead with 5:07 to play.
“He is a little jitterbug. He really came out last year against Patrick County. He had a breakout game that game, stop and go, he was just a tough kid to catch. He’s very elusive,” Sloss said. “His speed has gotten better, but that breakaway speed…that was just a great run.”
Floyd got the ball one last time with 1:30 remaining, scoring quickly on Bary’s 67-yard touchdown grab. But Carroll’s Cole stopped March on the two-point conversion, and the ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds, allowing the Cavs to run out the clock.
“I was really surprised on that two-point conversion they ran the football. I was shocked they ran the football, the way they run up and down the field throwing the football on us,” Sloss said. “He is a great coach and I am not going to question what he is doing, but I am just thankful they ran the football because I feel like that is our strong suit there, stuffing that run at that point in time.”
Robinson completed 4-of-11 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown to lead Carroll. He also led the Cavs on the ground with 45 yards rushing on 13 carries. Vaught caught two passes for 85 yards for Carroll, who will try to improve to 2-0 this Friday at home against Grayson County.
Carroll Co. 0 16 7 7 – 30
Floyd Co. 7 7 8 6 – 22
FC – March 3 run (Perez kick)
CC – Wells 3 run (Goins kick)
CC – Mollett 19 fumble return (kick failed)
FC – March 7 run (Perez kick)
CC – Goins 34 field goal
FC – I. Bary 83 kick return (March run)
CC – Dalton 6 run (Goins kick)
CC – Vaught 77 pass from Robinson (Goins kick)
FC – I. Bary 67 pass from Underwood (run failed)
First Downs 13 15
Rushes-Yards 42-125 38-142
Passing 4-11-0 9-18-0
Passing Yards 118 181
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 5-3
Penalties-Yards 11-102 9-85
Possession 25:23 22:37
RUSHING – Robinson 13-45, Wells 7-42, Dalton 8-36, Quesenberry 4-20, Mollett 2-18, Vaught 4-minus 8, Team 4-minus 28.
PASSING – Robinson 4-11-0 118 yds.
RECEIVING – Vaught 2-85, Goins 2-33.
RUSHING – March 21-100, Agee 11-27, Carr 3-11, Underwood 3-4.
PASSING – Underwood 9-18-0 181 yds.
RECEIVING – I. Bary 2-80, J. Bary 2-27, March 1-26, Voiles 1-19, Gallimore 1-13, Agee 1-10, Carr 1-6.