Pinyan wins in Carson debut
SALISBURY — It was a game that had “Win One For Joe Pinyan” written all over it.
Carson’s new football coach has always been a tough out at Ludwig Stadium — and Friday night was no exception.
“I’m on top of the world,” Pinyan said after the Cougars gained a 14-9 win over Salisbury, his former team, in a well-trumpeted season-opener. “I must have a pretty good record at this stadium. A lot of great football has been played here and now these kids have been a part of that too. This is where great games are played and they played one tonight.”
Carson survived four turnovers and prevailed thanks largely to a seek-and-destroy defense that limited Salisbury to five first downs and 89 total yards. “And we did it without Myquon (Stout),” noted linebacker Patrick Ratliff. “I think that showed what our defense is all about.”
Stout, the dirt-eating linebacker who suffered a shoulder injury Thursday and missed the game, was sorely missed. Senior Cody Dale proved a capable replacement as the teams stuffed 10 pounds of excitement into a five-pound game.
“It was exciting,” said Ryan Crowder, Salisbury’s first-year head coach. “But all I can think about are the what-ifs. What if that tenth-of-a-second is gone at the end of the first half. Then they’ve only got seven points. What if we tee the ball up better on two missed field goals. What if we don’t get called for misconduct in the second half.”
It was a head-scratching night for the Hornets, who took 22 snaps inside Carson territory in the first half yet trailed 7-3 at the break. Carson played the clock perfectly when Tommy Dang snagged a 22-yard pass from quarterback Austin McNeil and went out of bounds with 0:00.1 remaining in the second quarter. On the final play of the half Tyler Reynolds blasted over the left side and into the end zone.
“Tough break,” Salisbury linebacker Donnell Alexander said after recovering two fumbles. “We did a whole lot of things right, but so did they. I guess once you make a decision you can’t look back. You’ve got to move forward.”
Carson extended its lead to 14-3 late in the third period on a 10-play, 78-yard scoring drive that featured a terrific QB read and an unfortunate Salisbury penalty. On second down from the CHS 22, McNeil found running Brandon Sloop over the middle for a 28-yard pick-up to midfield.
“We had been running the ball real hard and I just looked back at Austin before the play,” explained Sloop, who rushed for 98 yards and caught two passes for another 50. “The defensive end was flying up the field, blitzing, so there was no one to guard me. I threw up my hand, he saw it and made a perfect pass.”
The drive nearly stalled moments later when, facing third-and-11 from the Salisbury 39, McNeil was stopped following a six-yard gain. But a Hornet defender refused to let him up, triggering a response from Carson center Henry Brown. “I was trying to fight for the chains when some big old lineman layed out on top of me,” McNeil reported. “Then (Brown) told him, ‘Get off my quarterback.’” That just got him mad and he said something he shouldn’t have.”
Three snaps later Darren Isom scored on a short blast over the left side. Salisbury answered midway through the fourth quarter when Willie Clark capped a short-field drive with a 16-yard TD run. Carson sewed up the win by collecting three first downs and maintaining possession over the final six minutes, setting off a celebation Pinyan and the Cougars won’t soon forget.
“I’ll definitely remember Coach Pinyan’s face at the end of the game,” Sloop said. “His smile was amazing. That right there, that’s what you play for.”