Carroll County rolled up over 400 yards and 19 first downs Friday night at Bill Strong Field in Independence, but key penalties and an even more potent Grayson County offense allowed the Blue Devils to come away with a 45-20 victory.
“They did not do anything we didn’t work on. We’ve just got to make plays,” said Carroll Head Coach Tom Hale. “(Grayson) just big-played us to death; we had people there, but just couldn’t make the play.”
While Carroll accounted for 421 yards of total offense, Grayson amassed 473, including nine plays that covered 21 yards or more. The tandem of quarterback Max Rodgers and his brother, wide receiver Michael, were the sharpest thorns in the Cavaliers’ side. The pair hooked up five times for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
“We feel like we had our best kid covering (Rodgers), but he just didn’t do a very good job. We just didn’t get the job done on number two,” said Hale.
When the Rodgers duo weren’t doing their damage, it was John Bilbrey who was finding holes in Carroll defense. Bilbrey finished with 155 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
The Cavaliers also hurt themselves with penalties, getting whistled for nine that amounted to 82 yards. Several came a key times, halting Carroll drives.
“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot, especially with the penalties,” said Hale.
A key point in the game came early in the second quarter with Grayson leading 14-6. Carroll mounted a nine-play, 75-yard drive that found the Cavaliers with a first down at the Blue Devil 6 following a 39-yard completion from quarterback Connor Lundy to wide receiver Josh Underwood. The play also resulted with an injury to Underwood, who did not return to play.
“He’s a key player,” said Hale of Underwood. “He’s a two-way starter, he’s on every kicking team. That hurt us a little bit.”
After reaching the Grayson 6, Carroll tested the middle of the Blue Devils’ line four times with Patrick Davis and Jake Dillon. The first three runs got the ball to the 1, but Dillon was stopped for no gain on the fourth-down attempt.
“That was big. It killed our momentum,” said Hale.
Carroll’s defense then came up big, holding Grayson to three plays and a punt to give the Cavaliers the ball back at the Blue Devils’ 27. However, an illegal procedure penalty, a sack of Lundy and three incomplete passes gave the ball back to Grayson, which needed just five plays to cover the 66 yards for a score. Max Rodgers had a 55-yard run in the drive, which was completed when he hit Michael Rodgers for a 4-yard scoring pass.
After forcing Carroll to punt, Grayson boosted their lead to 27-6. Max Rodgers hit Spencer Roberts with a 36-yard pass, then finished the two-play drive with a 26-yard scoring toss to Michael Rodgers.
Carroll appeared ready to make a game of it midway of the third quarter with a four-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Davis got it off to a great start with a 41-yard scamper, and Lundy finished it off by hitting Dillon with a 30-yard scoring pass.
However, Grayson answered on a second-down play with the Rodgers brothers connecting on a 59-yard scoring toss.
Carroll retaliated with a three-play scoring drive of its own. Dillon ripped off a 27-yard gain, then Lundy connected with Chris Smoot on back-to-back tosses, the second resulting in a 24-yard touchdown that cut Grayson’s lead to 35-20 with 3:33 left in the third quarter.
That proved to be a solid combination for Carroll all night with Smoot catching nine of Lundy’s passes for 138 yards. Overall, Lundy completed 16 of 34 passes for 281 yards.
However, that would be as close as Carroll would come. Grayson sealed the victory with a 12-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard Mario Ruiz field goal and a four-play, 46-yard drive that ended with John Brilbey scoring from 10 yards out.
Despite the loss, Hale said, “I’m proud of these kids. The kids gave a great effort, and they didn’t quit.”
Both teams scoring on their opening drives of the game, Grayson going 63-yards in three plays and Carroll answering with a 10-play, 61-yard drive that was capped off by Josh Blankenship’s 1-yard run.
The Blue Devils then took the lead for good by covering 64 yards in just two play, the scoring coming on Bilbrey’s 52-yard burst up the middle.
Carroll60 140 - 20
Grayson 14 138 10 - 45
G – Bilbrey 21-yard run (Ruiz kick)
CC – Blankenship 1-yard run (pass failed)
G – Bilbrey 21-yard run (Ruiz kick)
G – Michael Rodgers 4-yard pass from Max Rodgers (Ruiz kick)
G – Michael Rodgers 26-yard pass from Max Rodgers (kick failed)
CC – Dillon 30-yard pass from Lundy (run failed)
G – Michael Rodgers 59-yard pass from Max Rodgers (Bilbrey run)
CC – Smoot 24-yard pass from Lundy (Dillon run)
G – Ruiz 20-yard field goal
G – Bilbrey 10-yard run (Ruiz kick)
First downs 19 14
Rushes-Yds 29-144 39-280
Passing 16-34-0 7-9-0
Passing Yds. 281 193
Penalties 9-82 6-32
Fumbles-lost 2-0 1-1
Rushing - Davis 9-77, Dillon 8-49, Underwood 4-15, Blankenship 2-7, Alley 3-6, Lundy 3- (14).
Passing – Lundy 16-34-0, 281 yards.
Receiving – Smoot 9-138, Case 4-65, Underwood 1-39, Dillon 1-30, Alley 1-9.
Rushing – Bilbrey 20-155, Max Rodgers 7-60, Roberts 10-60, Smith 1-3, Lundy 1-3.
Passing – Max Rodgers 7-9-0 193 yards.
Receiving – Michael Rodgers 5-150, Roberts 2-43.