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Prep Football: Salisbury 27, Carson 18

CHINA GROVE ó In a week of weather concerns, Salisbury’s thunder and lightning prevailed over Carson’s patient, steady drizzle.
The Hornets were badly whipped at the line of scrimmage in the first half, but they made enough big plays to beat the Cougars 27-18 in a game played on Thursday to beat Hurricane Hanna.
“Carson was a good football team all the way around,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “But our guys are growing up. We made offensive plays when we had to and defensive plays when we had to.”
Carson’s Shaun “Bush” Warren and Jacquarian Brown both rushed for over 100 yards, but the Hornets scored on defense and special teams.
“It’s fulfilling as a coach to be able to line kids up and feel like you have a good chance to win a football game, and I don’t believe I’m saying that with false confidence,” Carson’s Mark Woody said. “But kicking-game errors really hurt us and Salisbury is so tough. They’ve got kids that can go.”
And go ó and go.
Salisbury (3-0) may have set a world record by putting up three touchdowns in a span of 26 seconds. The surprising Cougars (1-1) owned most of the night with their physical ground attack, but the Hornets ruled the last 10 seconds of the first half with two electrifying touchdowns, then returned the second-half kickoff all the way for a backbreaker.
SHS senior Dario Hamilton’s night summed things up. Eight carries for 9 yards, but two-big play TDs.
Carson pounded out 12 first downs before Salisbury finally got its first one. But while the Cougars dominated in every aspect, they couldn’t turn yards into points. Martin Hosch-Cathcart and 385-pound Kiontae Rankin made interceptions to halt first-half drives inside the Salisbury 10.
Jeremiah Stockdale’s 41-yard interception return TD for the Hornets made it 7-0 midway through the second quarter. It was the first of two picks by Stockdale.
“They tried to force the ball to Daniel Yates, Stockdale explained. “O’ Bryan Graham tipped it, and I pulled it in. It was an exciting we needed. We knew Carson was better, but I really didn’t expect as much as they showed tonight.”
Carson cut its deficit to 7-6 when linebacker John Mullis scored on a fumble return. When Mullis recovered another fumble on Salisbury’s next snap, Carson pushed 24 yards for another quick score. A 2-yard run by Brown made it 12-7 Cougars with only 42 seconds left in the half, and a huge home crowd erupted with joy.
Fans who headed for the concession stand missed considerable excitement. On first-and-10 from the Carson 48, Salisbury quarterback John Knox pumped once, then watched Hamilton sprint free behind Carson’s defense. Hamilton made the catch, Frankie Cardelle, who had already launched a 66-yard punt, kicked the PAT, and the Hornets led 14-12.
Cardelle was roughed on his PAT, and 15 yards were accessed on the kickoff. That made an onside kick a good gamble, and Joseph Figueroa recovered it for the Hornets at the Carson 30.
Knox then threw his second TD pass in eight seconds when Romar Morris pulled down the ball in the end zone with two seconds to go in the half.
Down 12-7, with the final seconds ticking down, Salisbury somehow took a 20-12 lead to the locker room.
Then Hamilton accepted the second half kickoff and exploded 80 yards for a 27-12 advantage.
“That return was there in the first half, but we didn’t catch the ball,” Pinyan said. “I told Dario ‘Look, they’re gonna kick it to us ó catch it and go.’ I saw the angle he had and the hole. Then I started counting out milkshakes.”
Milkshakes are Pinyan’s reward for all 11 guys on the kickoff team whenever a runback goes to the house.
“We knew we could do it, but we needed the blocks,” Hamilton said. “We got the blocks, and I read them.”
A 72-yard dash by Brown set up Carson QB Ryan Jones’ 8-yard scoring strike to Travis Hayes that made it 27-18 with 4:37 left in the game, but blitzing linebacker Pierre Jiminez buried Yates’ run for a two-point conversion.
That kept Carson down nine points ó two scores ó and essentially ended the upset bid.
 
 

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