Prep Football: J.M. Robinson 48, Carson 39
By Ryan Bisesi
CHINA GROVE — Carson and Jay M Robinson both took a week off, but neither offense was lacking Friday night.
Robinson, winless in its first two games, scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to overcome an 11-point deficit and pull away in a 48-39 score-a-thon.
Carson’s touchdown on the last play of the third quarter seemed like it was an omen to welcome its second win, but the lead meant little in this game.
“I’ve never seen a game like that,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “We had something good happen then had something bad happen. It was strange.”
There were bad snaps on punts, muffed returns, five failed extra points and two interception returns for touchdowns in a game that rivaled the same pace of last year’s 49-35 Carson win.
Carson’s Travis Abbitt, coming off an injury ran for 97 yards in the first half, before getting reinjured and only running three times in the second.
Robinson’s Ramon Escano ran for 132 yards on nine carries as the game’s leading rusher and gave the Bulldogs the turning point in the waning minutes. Two plays after Robinson recovered a muffed punt, Escano ran 47 yards to the Carson 5-yard-line. He punched it in on the next play to give his team the lead for keeps with 2:52 to play.
Darien Williams earned 107 yards on 12 carries and put a bow on it with a 44-yard touchdown in the final minute.
Their opponent’s 0-2 record was deceptive for the Cougars, who had their game postponed last week as did Robinson.
“I try not to get any preconceived notions anymore,” Woody said. “They play a lot faster than we saw on film and you’ve got to give them all the credit in the world.”
With Carson up 31-20 with under nine minutes to play, Escano broke off a 74-yard touchdown spurt to bring Robinson back within striking distance.
“He’s a tough little nut,” said Robinson coach Bobby Cloninger of Escano. “It threw a breath of life back into us. We realized we had a chance.”
Robinson recovered the special teams miscue with 3:40 left.
Punter Michael Mendez launched a short, wobbly effort that went off Carson’s hands and into a pile and Robinson recovered.
After that, Carson didn’t recover.
“We were lucky to come up with it,” Cloninger said. “If you play hard, maybe you make your own luck, I don’t know.”
Carson fell behind 13-0 not even four minutes into the action after Colin Snedegar picked off an Austin McNeil pass and ran 45 yards into the end zone.
Two possessions later, the Cougars tied it on a 51-yard pass from McNeil to KJ Pressley, who had 112 yards receiving on the night.
Carson took its first lead on an interception from Dontae Gilbert, who took it to the end zone as the Cougars went ahead 25-20.
“Coach told me to sit on the out route,” Gilbert said. “I sat and saw the ball and broke on it.”
After Robinson went three-and-out, Carson took advantage of an 11-yard punt and took over at its own 45.
Rodney Richards ran 20 yards and got a personal foul tacked on to bring it to the Robinson 22. Two plays later, McNeil ran it in from 11 yards out for a 31-20 lead on the last snap of the third quarter.
After Escano got the Bulldogs back in it, Robinson forced a three-and-out and Carson’s punt attempt went awry thanks to a bad snap, which Greg Tonnesen had to pounce on.
One play later, Williams ran it 23 yards into the end zone and Hamilton Jones’ extra point made it 35-31 in Robinson’s favor.
Gilbert came in at quarterback on the following series and produced a 20-yard run.
He capped the drive with a 44-yard toss to Tonnesen, who got behind the secondary and waltzed into the end zone.
“It was a play we worked on over the summer,” Gilbert said. “Coach called it and we ran it well.”