CHINA GROVE — It took a little trickery and a lot of perseverance for Northwest Cabarrus Friday night.
In they end they surprised the Carson Cougars with a touchdown pass in the final minute to win 25-22 and spoil the Cougar’s homecoming festivities. It was a crucial South Piedmont Conference win for the Trojans, creating a logjam in the standings with just two games left in the regular season.
Carson seemed in control when they went ahead 22-19 with just 2:03 left on Darren Isom’s third TD of the night. NWC was then backed up to their own 31 facing third and 15 with just over a minute left. But they had a trick left in the bag.
Quarterback Brandon White lateraled to receiver JD Murray who pulled up and fired a pass to wide open Nathan Clark behind the defense. The play covered 45 yards and gave the Trojans new life at the Carson 24. It was a play the Trojans had just put in their offense this week.
Three plays later White passed to halfback Armon Dooley in the end zone for the winning points with just 47 seconds left.
“I just told my quarterback to look for me,” Dooley said of the winning play, “I was going to find a way to make it happen and we did.”
White, who exploited the Cougar secondary for 158 yards primarily on short passes that turned into big gainers, said the team was prepared for the dramatic last drive.
“We practice our two minute drill every day in practice just like a game situation,” White said. “He happened to be open and I made the pass.”
Carson, which dropped to 5-4, 3-3 in the SPC, wasted a stellar running night from the tandem of Isom and Brandon Sloop. The pair were in full bulldozer mode, shredding the Trojans for 279 yards themselves. Sloop had 173 as he surpassed the 3,000 yard mark for career rushing. Isom had 106 yards highlighted by his third TD in the late stages as he ran over four defenders from 11 yards out to put Carson back in the lead.
“I was always taught that if nothing was there you have to make something out of nothing,” Isom said of his pile driving style.
The Cougars had fallen behind early in the fourth period 19-15 on Dooley’s 12 yard run. But they responded with a marathon 18 play drive that covered 71 yards and used 7:41 of the fourth quarter clock.
“We did everything we wanted to do,” Carson Coach Joe Pinyan stated of the long drive. “We moved the ball, drove it down the field but we were just two minutes short. We just made too many mistakes on defense and didn’t capitalize on offense when we had the chance.”
Carson took the early lead and held it for most of three quarters before the Trojans rallied.
Isom scored on the opening drive of the game from 17 yards then added a 3 yard run just before the half for a 15-7 lead. The score was set up by a 42 yard fumble scoop and run by defensive lineman Ryan Bearden to the Trojan 13.
Northwest (6-3, 3-3) had not been a strong second half team all season until Friday night. “We showed a lot of heart tonight,” Coach Rich Williams stated. “ We have been waiting for this, for our guys to keep playing for four quarters and tonight we did.”
Carson remains in the play-off chase with Hickory Ridge coming in next week.
“Coach has always said the past is the past,” Isom stated. “You have to look to the present and the future.”
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