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Prep Football: Carson 42, Robinson 12

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE ó On offense, Shaun Warren ran roughshod through and around the defense. Zack Gragg made fans think Joe Montana had moved to China Grove.
On defense, Zack Grkman was forcing fumbles and recovering fumbles. Derrick Sewell was taking interceptions in for touchdowns. Micah Honeycutt was knocking out the opponent’s starting quarterback.
If you haven’t guessed yet, Carson dominated Robinson on Friday night to the tune of 42-12, giving Carson a 3-2 record.
Mark Woody’s Cougars led 21-6 at halftime and an 11-play scoring drive to begin the third quarter sucked out what little life the Bulldogs had left.
It had only been 14 days since Salisbury thrashed Carson 50-6, but it now seems like years.
“Two weeks ago,we decided we’re not going to let one game define who we are,” Woody said. “The kids made a commitment to the coaches and the coaches made a commitment to the kids. And we’ve gotten better.”
Carson started strong. Warren, who got the ball on 16 of 17 first-half rushing attempts, scored on a 4-yard run, and Grkman recovered a fumble on the kickoff. On the next play, quarterback Gragg threw a perfect strike to a wide-open Cody Clanton for a 45-yard touchdown.
The rout was on.
“I think that really surprised them,” said Gragg, who finished with two scoring tosses and 178 yards passing. “They were ready for us to ground and pound like we always do.”
After Clanton caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Gragg in the second quarter, Honeycutt came up with a big defensive play. He sacked Bulldog quarterback Robert Cloninger, who limped off the field and didn’t return.
“It looks like a high ankle sprain,” said his father, Robinson coach Bobby Cloninger.
Joey Bastine came on but could never solve the intense Carson defense.
The Cougars put the game away soon after the third quarter began on a drive featuring ó who else? ó Warren that took up over five minutes. The slithery Warren had runs of 10, 11 and 17 yards before scooting in from the 3. A 28-6 lead was too much to overcome.
“You’ve got to make plays against him,” Cloninger said. “If you don’t, he’ll beat you.”
Woody said that drive was one to remember.
“I told our players that’s the best drive I’ve had since I’ve been a head coach,” Woody said. “We wanted what we call a ‘death drive’ at some point. That took the heart out of them.”
Carson then buried Robinson in the fourth quarter.
After Zach Smith hauled in a short touchdown throw from Gragg, Bastine tried the pass into the flat one time too many. Bastine tossed one right into the hands of Sewell, who loped into the end zone for Carson’s final score.
“I thought we came out ready to play hard,” Grkman said. “It was a great team effort.”
Gragg agreed.
“As soon as we stepped on the field, we felt good,” he said. “We were ready to go tonight.”
Cloninger was certainly impressed.
“They did what they had to do to be successful,” he said. “If they’re not a good football team, they’re gonna be.”
Gragg said the defense pumped up the offense.
“We know we don’t have to put up but 13 points to win,” he said.
The Cougars got 29 more than they needed.
“We feel real good about our whole offense,” Woody said. “I like where we are right now running the ball and throwing the ball. We try to figure out how to get kids the ball who make plays for us and they’re stepping up.”
Gragg probably said it best.
“We’re all clicking,” he said with a smile.

NOTES: Clanton finished with five catches for 153 yards. … Clifford Long blocked well and had 30 yards rushing on six carries. … The only downside to the Cougars’ win: 11 penalties for 107 yards.

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