Carson secures third in SPC
CONCORD — Carson coach Joe Pinyan said his team was looking for a season defining win in Friday’s regular season finale, and the first year Carson coach got just that as his team cruised to a 49-21 road win over Cox Mill (4-7, 3-5 SPC). In doing so, Carson secured third place outright in the difficult South Piedmont Conference.
Carson moves to 7-4 overall and finishes the league slate 5-3, behind only regional powers Concord and Central Cabarrus in the nine-team SPC. The Cougars jumped on a Charger squad that was celebrating Senior Night and coming off an emotional win over West Rowan by putting a pair of touchdowns on the scoreboard in each of the first three quarters. Junior tailback Brandon Sloop and senior quarterback Austin McNeill once again led the Cougar charge, and Sloop passed the 1,000 yard season rushing threshold in the process while carrying the ball 24 times for 132 yards in the victory.
McNeill completed just two passes on the evening but made them both count, with the first being a 56 yard beauty to Brendan Huneycutt that set up a second-quarter Cougar touchdown and the latter a 41-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Reynolds that effectively put the game out of reach late in the third quarter. McNeill has put his team in contention to possibly host Carson’s first home playoff game since 2010, when the school held two football postseason games on campus.
“This was one of our best games of the season offensively, and we knew it was a make or break game in the conference standings race,” McNeill said. “We would love to get a home game in the first round next week and go out and give our fans something to get excited about.”
The Cougars got out to a quick start, scoring on Sloop’s 1-yard run with 7:39 remaining in the first quarter. Following a Charger fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive, Carson tailback Tyler Reynolds added a 21 yard touchdown gallop to give the visitors two scores in a span of 22 seconds for the 14-0 lead. Cox Mill answered on its next drive, taking advantage of a 50-yard quarterback scamper from Charger QB Hunter Longmire. Cox Mill senior tailback Tre Knox finished the drive with a 10 yard touchdown run to draw the hosts within a score midway through the first quarter.
Carson touchdown runs from senior Darren Isom and Sloop in the second period gave the visitors a 28-7 lead, but Cox Mill cut the deficit to 14 on a James Dees touchdown reception in the final minute of the first half. The 18-yard scoring pass from Charger QB Hunter Longmire was one of the few bright spots of the night for the senior, who finished 8-for-22 through the air under constant pressure from the Cougar defensive line and tight coverage from defensive backs Jonathan Rucker and Tyrese Paul who prevented the pass heavy Charger offense from breaking a long completion.
In addition to Sloop’s big ground yardage, Carson also got 72 yards on 10 carries from Isom in a team effort that resulted in 335 rushing yards.
“I thought we did a good job of controlling the football tonight once we just lined up and pounded the ball,” Pinyan said, after being doused with a water cooler in the frigid temperatures. “I couldn’t be prouder of these kids in how they responded to the pressure of playing these last two weeks and we’re excited about moving forward to the playoffs.”
Carson will await word from the NCHSAA on a possible home game next week until the playoff brackets are released this afternoon.