Prep Football: Salisbury 50, Carson 6
By Mike London
Principal Windsor Eagle, who bellows, “It’s another Hornet first down!” every time Salisbury moves the chains at Ludwig Stadium, exhausted his vaunted vocal chords on Friday.
Salisbury hammered out 18 first downs to maul Carson 50-6. The Cougars stumbled headlong into an angry, buzzing buzz-saw. It was like a trip in a time machine back to 2006, their struggling, debut season.
“They beat us up,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “It wasn’t so much what we didn’t do as what they did do. They can move it quick, and they gave us problems upfront.”
It wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Salisbury fumbled at the end of two deep drives and dropped a sure touchdown pass or it might’ve been 70-6. Carson didn’t manage a first down until a flag for roughing the passer fell late in the first half.
Just about everyone thought this matchup was a tossup so what the heck happened?
For one thing, Salisbury quarterback John Knox, who had 248 yards of offense, delivered a phenomenal game ó throwing, running, reading and leading. Another thing was Salisbury’s control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It was total.
“I thought we executed our gameplan, which was to make sustained drives and keep (Carson tailback) Shaun Warren off the field,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan said. “I thought we played with a lot of pride and a whole lot of confidence.”
Five of Warren’s first seven carries ended in his own backfield. The other two gained 2 hard yards. He finally broke a 45-yarder and a 16-yard run to finish with 64 yards.
Darien Rankin, who plays the “Hornet” position for Salisbury, smothered a pair of running plays for back-to-back losses.
“Our main objective was to play together as a team and my mind was set to play well,” Rankin said.
He did. They all did. Salisbury (2-1) dominated every phase, including a lopsided advantage in the kicking game, an area in which Carson experienced two disasters.
Carson (1-2) accepted the opening kickoff and got a decent runback. After two unsuccessful runs by Warren and an incomplete pass ó QB Zach Gragg usually was sprinting for his life ó it was time for Chris Barnhardt’s first punt.
Salisbury’s first possession included eight straight positive running plays. The drive ended at the Carson 28 with a fumble, but the tone was set. It was pretty obvious Salisbury would move the ball.
“We thought we had a good chance,” Carson safety Jenson Harden said. “We thought we were ready to play, but, obviously, they were even more ready. They blew us off the line that first play and we got a little intimidated.”
The first quarter was scoreless, but the Hornets were driving methodically by the end of it.
Dejoun Jones scored from the 1-yard line at the start of the second quarter to ignite a 28-point period for the Hornets.
With 6:18 remaining in the first half, Knox spotted Alex Weant, the willowy basketball player, running free down the home sideline and hit him in stride for the 72-yard TD that made it 14-0. The Hornets gameplanned for clock-eating drives, but they didn’t mind hitting that home run.
“Our offensive line made the difference all night,” Knox said. “They really came out firing. They let me have time to throw and we always had holes when we ran.”
Next came two special-teams miscues that took Carson out of the game. The Cougars lost a muffed punt on their 5 and failed to get a punt away when they were pinned deep. Romar Morris cashed in two short TD runs and David Simons kicked two PATs to make it 28-0.
Carson got its only score in the final minute of the half on a pass play from Gragg to Cody Clanton.
Knox took charge in the third quarter, hitting TD machine Riley Gallagher for a 26-yard score. Then Knox made a darting, dodging 55-yard scoring dash when it initially appeared he’d be sacked.
“We’ve had great running backs and I’ve seen a lot of great runs but that was about as good as we’ve had here,” Pinyan said. “It was almost unfair for them to even try and lay a glove on Knox. He played a tremendous game.”