Defense strong again in impressive victory
Another one for the defense.
The Carson defense and special teams forced six turnovers — four interceptions and two fumbles — that led to 21 points and keyed the Senators’ dominating 42-7 first-round playoff win over McQueen Friday night at the Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
Carson improved to 8-2 overall, and will host Reno, a 17-0 winner over Bishop Manogue, next Friday at 7 p.m.
“Our defense came to play,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “I think we dominated the game defensively. The defense did a great job tonight. They are starting to understand what we’re trying to do. The kids aren’t hesitating any more. We’re playing real fast and we’re playing with confidence.”
It shows. Carson’s defense has suddenly caught fire, allowing just 14 points in the last four games, both scores coming against reserves in the fourth quarter of blowout wins. The Carson starting unit led by Nolan Shine, Brady Rivera, Ikela Lewis, Asa Carter and Gerardo Lobato, has 14 scoreless quarters to their credit.
“We’re coming together as a group,” said Shine, who had one of Carson’s four picks and was also a force on special teams. “We’re playing as a unit.
“When I watched McQueen’s offense they wanted to run the ball, and that played into our hands. Stopping the run is what we do best.”
The defense got off to a quick start Friday, forcing the Lancers into the first of several three-and-out drives.
The offense put together an eight-play 48-yard drive that was capped by Carter’s 25-yard scoring run. Eddie Duarte’s PAT made it 7-0 with 8:13 left in the first.
“That was just the fly sweep we always run,” said Carter, who would tack on a pass receiving score in the second half. “Elijah (Fajayan) made a nice block and Connor (Pradere) got a crack back I think.”
Then it was time for the Carson defense and special teams to take over.
After an exchange of possessions, Dilyn Rooker stepped in front of a Jonathon Wethee pass at the Carson 49 and brought it all the way back to the McQueen 18. The Senators didn’t waste the opportunity, as Colby Brown (14 carries, 74 yards) scored on an 18-yard run on the following play. Duarte’s kick made it 14-0.
“The receivers crossed,” Rooker said. “One ran a post and the other ran a corner. The ball was a little underthrown, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
McQueen drove to Carson’s 46 on its next possession, but the drive bogged down. A bad snap from center forced the McQueen punter to chase the rolling ball down. He managed to corral it, but Carter knocked it out of his hands, and Rivera fell on the ball at the McQueen 20.
Five plays later, Fajayan scored the first of his two touchdowns, this one from 2 yards out. The PAT made it 21-0 with 11:19 left in the half.
“They made some big mistakes in the first half,” Roman said. “Our offense started well, but we had a rough second quarter. We came back in the third quarter.”
Carson scored on its first three possessions in the second half, two on nice drives and the third after Lobato recovered his third fumble in two games.
The Senators marched 67 yards in nine plays and two penalties, Fajayan capping the drive with a 5-yard run at the 8:07 mark. The two big plays in the drive were a 17-yard run by Brown on a third-and-2 play that gave CHS a first down at the McQueen 31, and a 22-yard pass from Joe Nelson to Rooker that gave the Senators a first down at the 14. The TD came three plays later.
“That was big,” said Duarte. “That was one of the biggest points of the game.”
A 20-yard punt return by Brady O’Keefe, keyed by Lewis’ pancake block, gave Carson great field position at the McQueen 39.
After Brown was thrown for a yard loss on first down, Nelson hooked up with Carter on a 40-yard scoring play. Carter was wide open and scored easily to make it 35-0.
“We ran the same play earlier in the game and I was wide open,” Carter said.
“They were biting hard on the power (play).”
Three plays later, Lobato recovered Elijah Steingardner’s fumble at the McQueen 6, and three plays later, Seamus Burns dived in from a yard out for Carson’s final score with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
Carson’s defense gave up its only score midway through the forth quarter when Wethee capped a 76-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring run.
Carson’s defense allowed just 176 yards unofficially, its best performance in the last four weeks. Steingardner had 96 rushing yards, but like Douglas’ Cale Kynett the week before, most of them came in garbage time.