Prep Football: Carson 31, West Iredell 14
By Bret Strelow
CHINA GROVE ó Carson defensive back Derrick Sewell held an empty cupcake wrapper in his left hand as he licked crumbs off his right one.
Sewell’s third interception was just the icing on a spectacular senior night. His first pick prevented West Iredell from scoring at the end of a tight first half, and the Cougars pulled away for a 31-14 victory in their regular-season finale.
“It’s a great feeling; I haven’t ever felt nothin’ like this,” Sewell said. “Just a great night.”
Sewell accounted for three of Carson’s five interceptions, and running back Shaun Warren capped a 159-yard effort for the Cougars (6-5, 3-3 NPC) by scoring his second touchdown with 1:21 left.
Wide receiver Cody Clanton had six catches for 143 yards and totaled two TDs ó one on his first carry of the season.
“They just kept plugging away, and I’m real proud of our defense,” said Carson coach Mark Woody, whose program will make its playoff debut with a winning record. “I don’t think people realize how talented that team is. They’re extremely talented, and they’ve got kids that can go the distance at any time. Our kids kept them under wraps most of the night.”
West Iredell (4-6, 1-4) trailed 12-0 before quarterback Sayer Robinson scored on a 2-yard keeper with 3:02 remaining in the first half.
West’s Phillip Walls recovered an angled pooch kick at Carson’s 42, and a personal foul on the Cougars following a third-down sack by Micah Honeycutt moved the ball inside Carson’s 10.
The Warriors were facing another third down in the final minute of the half when Robinson threw to Shrine Bowl selection P.J. Clyburn cutting toward the middle of the field. The ball tipped off his fingers, and Sewell’s interception at the goalline preserved a 12-7 edge.
“That was a pivotal factor right there,” West Iredell coach Mark Weycker said. “It was just one of the monumental mass of mistakes that we made.”
Sewell recorded his second interception in the opening minute of the second half, and Clanton’s 32-yard touchdown catch gave Carson an 11-point lead. Zack Gragg added a 1-yard sneak with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter.
The quarter ended with Sewell picking off another pass.
“I was just reading the quarterback, playing over the top,” Sewell said. “Wherever he threw it, I was there.”
Carson’s first interception led to the game’s initial touchdown.
Senior linebacker Zach White stepped in front of a throw at the Cougars’ 31 and gained 23 yards on a return down the left sideline. Clanton began the next series with a 28-yard catch and ended it with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Clanton came in motion from the right, took a handoff from Gragg following a fake to Warren and jogged into the left side of the end zone.
“I didn’t think much of it because we’ve ran it in practice,” Clanton said. “We just figured we’d try it out. It happened, and it worked perfect.”
The Cougars’ next scoring drive started at West Iredell’s 44, and Gragg connected with Clanton for 34 yards on first down. A dead-ball penalty for taunting backed up Carson, and Warren’s 17-yard touchdown run increased the first-half lead.
The most impressive hookup between Gragg and Clanton occurred early in the fourth quarter. Four defenders, including Clyburn, were crowded around Clanton when he left his feet to make a 30-yard grab.
Clanton closes the regular season with 924 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air.
“He’s as good as I’ve ever seen; I don’t care what anybody says,” Woody proclaimed. “He’s got unbelievable hands. He’s a talent, and I wouldn’t trade Cody for anybody.”
NOTES: Zack Grkman finished off the win with an interception near the end zone. … Ryan Shoaf had two sacks for Carson. Jenson Harden and Jacorian Brown had one apiece.
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