CONCORD — Carson is tied for last place in the SPC and it’s all Joe Pinyan’s fault.
At least that’s how the Cougars’ first-year coach viewed his team’s early-season predicament Friday night.
“The rule of thumb has always been if they’re not getting it done, then I’m not doing enough,” Pinyan said after Carson was spanked 45-24 in its conference opener at Central Cabarrus. “I’ve got to go back to work and make sure they’re doing enough at practice. Hopefully we’ll get it straightened out.”
Of course, there were lots of fingerprints on this mess. Carson (1-2, 0-1) was penalized 10 times for 90 yards. And while its offense bumped and bruised its way for 381 total yards, its defense was cellophane-thin — like the wrapper on a pack of cigarettes.
“Well, they were big and they had some strength in them,” said 6-foot-5 defensive tackle Alex Lyles. “Whenever they juked left or right, we tried to stay with them. But we weren’t able to shadow them everywhere on the field.”
Central (3-0, 1-0) sported an offense inspired by Cirque du Soleil. Quarterback Hasaan Klugh passed for four touchdowns and 284 yards, then scored a 75-yard sprint in the fourth quarter. Running back Kenny Purvis, the sturdy senior who scored seven touchdowns and ran for 303 yards in Central’s previous game, pierced Carson for just 119 yards but blew the game open with a 64-yard TD romp on the first play of the second half. And wideout Anthony Mullis reeled in a pair of touchdown passes — an 86-yarder that gave the hosts a 17-10 halftime lead and a 52-yard grab that made it 38-10 late in the third quarter.
“We just have so many weapons,” Klugh said afterward. “Most of the time all I have to do is put some touch on the ball and those guys run under it.”
He made it look easy over the final three periods. The opening quarter, when Carson coupled Brandon Sloop’s 56-yard touchdown run with Logan Correll’s 31-yard field goal, raised some eyebrows.
“We expected a tough, physical game and we got it,” said winning coach Donnie Kiefer. “We thought that wishbone would be hard to stop and it was. They brought a lot of early pressure and gave us some different looks. It usually takes us a half to figure it out.”
Sloop’s TD run came on a cutback down the left side on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage. “I gotta give credit to my linemen,” he said after rushing 25 times for a season-high 161 yards. “They did the work. I just ran.”
Pinyan said Sloop looked like the back he coached against in years past. “That’s the Brandon Sloop we’ve been waiting for,” he said. “He made some plays that weren’t even there.”
Carson quarterback Austin McNeill completed 8-of-12 passes for 127 yards and a pair of too-late-to-matter touchdowns to sophomore receiver Brendan Huneycutt. By then Central had scored 42 unanswered points and built a 45-10 lead.
“They were picked to win, but we gave them a fight for half the game,” Lyles said in his front-porch drawl. “Maybe that just shows what Carson is capable of doing. We have the strength to stop anybody.”
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