Prep Football: Carson’s game suspended until tonight
By Paul Hershey
HARRISBURG ó One of the questions for Carson coming into the 2009 campaign was whether the Cougars could get over the hump in close games.
It appears that they are headed for a tight one in their season opener, but the Cougars have to wait a night to see if they can pull one out.
Visiting Carson trailed Hickory Ridge 19-13 early in the fourth quarter Friday night when lightning stopped the game and eventually forced it to be suspended. With 11:38 remaining in the final quarter, the game will resume tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Hickory Ridge.
Needless to say, a rather unusual way for the Cougars’ fourth season to kick off.
“I’ve been doing this about 20 years, and this is a first for me,” Carson head coach Mark Woody said. “But it’s that time of year. You’ve got to deal with it and move on.”
Play was stopped about 9:30 p.m., but it appeared action would resume Friday night as officials and both teams returned to the field just before 10 p.m. Minutes later, another bolt of lightning was spotted and officials made the decision to call it a night.
Carson probably would’ve preferred to have gotten play started again.
After a shaky start put it in a 13-0 hole, the Cougars appeared to be finding their rhythm.
“I wanted to keep going,” Woody said. “But it’s OK. You’ve got to handle adversity.
“Whether it’s weather, whether it’s a call, whether it’s defense… to be good you’ve got to handle adversity. This is adversity. We’ve got to learn how to deal with it.”
The Cougars faced some after Hickory Ridge built a 19-7 lead with a long drive to start the second half. Carson quickly answered back, needing seven plays to go 72 yards.
Junior Jacorian Brown started the drive with a 22-yard burst, and speedy junior Shaun Warren followed with runs of 10 and 20 yards before recording a 13-yarder around left end for his second touchdown of the game. The extra point failed, leaving the score at 19-13 with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
Carson’s defense then forced a punt, and Warren broke several tackles for a 28-yard run to the Hickory Ridge 49. That’s when play was stopped.
“Going into the game we felt like if we could run the offense, we’d be OK,” Woody said. “We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole. Once we settled down, got our feet under us, we feel pretty good. We need to come back (tonight) and finish it out.”
It was an inauspicious start to the season for the Cougars offensively.
Quarterback Nick Houston tripped backing up from center on the opening snap from scrimmage and was sacked.
It didn’t get a whole better the rest of the half as Carson committed four turnovers. Two of the three fumbles were turned into Hickory Ridge’s first-half touchdowns.
Houston fumbled in Hickory Ridge territory on the opening drive. Three plays later, Cody Cothren took an end-around and raced 68 yards untouched to put the Ragin’ Bulls up 7-0.
Alex Lee temporarily saved the Cougars early in the second quarter, intercepting a pass at the Carson 5-yard line on a fourth-down play.
Carson gave it right back when Warren, who rushed 19 times for 138 yards before the game was stopped, couldn’t handle a poor pitch. Four plays later, Coye Still’s 16-yard run on another end-around made it 13-0.
The Ragin’ Bulls rushed for 211 yards in the first half and were up to 295.
“For them to only have 19 (points), we’re extremely fortunate because we put our defense in a hole,” Woody said. “Our defense is much better, but they were out there a whole lot. We can’t do that.”
Carson’s defense did hold after the Cougars fumbled away the kickoff following Still’s touchdown, and the Cougars offense finally got on the board right before halftime.
Warren capped a 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown run up the middle, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and juking a Hickory Ridge defender inside the 10.
Fellow running back Clifford Long kept the drive alive with a 6-yard run on a fourth-and-2 play at the Hickory Ridge 28. Jesse Wood’s extra-point made it 13-7 with 1:28 left in the half.
Warren was the workhorse for the Cougars.
“That’s business as usual for him,” Woody said. “He’s special. He’s the guy I want on my side.
“Cliff Long came up with a big fourth-down run there and kept it going. We have three quality backs, and we can give it to any one of them at any given time. Shaun had it going, and we went ahead and fed it to him. He seemed to be doing pretty good.
“We had some butterflies and got our jitters out and stuff like that, but we have a lot of confidence in our offense. We just had the turnovers. That’s the bottom line. If you take the turnovers away, it’s a different ballgame.”
When play resumes, the Cougars will have first down at the Hickory Ridge 49, looking for a potential go-ahead score.
“We’ve got the ball on the 49-yard line going in, and we plan on coming back with a ‘W,’ ” Woody said. “We’re going to get it done. We’re going to run our offense and make things happen. Whatever it takes, we’re going to get it done.”