Prep Football: North Iredell 10, Carson 6
By Bret Strelow
CHINA GROVE ó Carson aspired to pass as it incurred its final test, and North Iredell again came up with the correct answer.
Carson had a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line in the last two minutes, and defensive lineman Jay Sharpe tipped a fourth-down throw to help North hand the Cougars a 10-6 home loss Friday night.
Carson (3-5, 2-4 NPC) managed only a second-quarter touchdown against the previously winless Raiders (1-7, 1-5 NPC).
“Everybody wants to win, and you have to take the necessary steps in order to win,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “Tonight, I thought we didn’t show we’ve taken those necessary steps. That’s frustrating to the kids, young men who are working hard and expect to win.”
A mishandled snap on a 30-yard field goal try with 3:51 left prevented North Iredell from increasing its lead, and Carson’s Zack White came up with the loose ball at the Cougars’ 36. Ryan Jones hit Travis Hayes for a 26-yard gain to the Raiders’ 30, and a 25-yard carry by Shaun Warren gave Carson for a first-and-goal with 2:25 remaining.
Warren gained a total of 3 yards on back-to-back carries. He went right on a third-down sweep, sprinted toward the pylon and then cut back inside for no gain with 1:06 remaining.
North Iredell called a timeout moments before Jones took the fourth-down snap on a play that called for him to roll right with a run-pass option. Carson reacted to the Raiders’ new look by making a change of its own, and Jones looked left as Hayes ran a quick slant.
Sharpe’s deflection prevented the ball from reaching the intended target.
“We were going to run a play-action and try to get on the corner with a combination route and the quarterback a run-throw option,” Woody said. “After the timeout they changed the coverage, and we changed the play. Right before the play they moved a safety down and took the slant away. You have to give them credit.”
Matt Ramseur intercepted a pass 2 yards away from the end zone early in the fourth quarter to erase the Cougars’ only other chance to score in the second half.
North Iredell coach Shannon Ashley said he wasn’t surprised by Carson’s decision to throw on its final offensive play.
“We had to step up, and we stepped up and made a stand,” Ashley said. “Watching them on film, they really like the slant.”
The final 90 seconds of the first half featured more than one momentum swing.
Carson’s struggles in the punting game led to an early touchdown, and the Cougars attempted to pick up their second first down of the half when it tried to convert a fourth-and-1 from its 24 with 1:24 remaining.
The Raiders regained possession by stuffing Jacorian Brown for no gain, but Carson’s defense held strong and forced a 43-yard field goal attempt. Brad Moore made the kick with 49.2 seconds left to produce a 10-0 advantage.
Warren caught the kickoff at the 5 and broke free down the left sideline. Moore’s TD-saving tackle limited Warren to a 56-yard gain, and Carson took over at North Iredell’s 39 with no timeouts.
“That started momentum for us,” Jones said.
A call for pass interference negated an interception and moved the ball 15 yards. Hayes ran under a pass from Jones on the next play and scored easily.
“We finally started having confidence in ourselves,” Jones said. “I had good protection on the line and was able to sit back and let the ball fly to Travis.”
Kharea Roseboro, whose punt return for a TD gave North Iredell the lead for good in a 27-17 win against Carson in 2007, stood out again on special teams.
He blocked a first-quarter punt, made a tackle for a loss on a fake punt and recovered a fumble on a Carson punt return.
Roseboro’s block enabled the Raiders to start their first drive at Carson’s 24, and Joseph Keophilavanh tackled Ramseur for a loss on a fourth-and-1 carry. Another three-and-out forced Carson to punt from its 17, and Daniel Yates snagged a high snap with one hand before taking off on an unsuccessful rush. Ramseur capped a four-play, 14-yard drive with a 1-yard TD.
“I congratulate them,” Jones said. “They didn’t come in here with their heads down. They came in with their heads up.”