Carson falls to A.L. Brown, 42-14

Published 1:19 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

By David Shaw

KANNAPOLIS — Joe Pinyan looked like the county’s Mona Lisa on Friday night. Nobody was quite sure why he was smiling.

Sure, the Carson football coach got to attend his daughter’s rehearsal dinner before making a mad dash for A.L. Brown’s Memorial Stadium. And when he arrived, he watched the Cougars hold their own in the second half against a distinctive heavyweight.

But by the time this non-league meeting was adjourned, Pinyan and the Cougars were losers for the first time this season, 42-14.

“The thing is, we just lost to a good football team,” Pinyan said. “They had just lost to Marvin Ridge — and they’re pretty good. They’ve got a quality program here and everybody knows it.”

That includes the Wonders (2-1), who racked up 434 yards total yards and rebounded nicely from an insulting loss on Aug. 24.

“We told ourselves we never want to play another game like that,” right guard Jalen Goode explained. “We had a little slip-up last week. But we got ourselves together, got focused and got a payday on Friday.”

They got it by controlling the line of scrimmage and holding Carson (2-1) scoreless until the fourth quarter. It was a 7-0 game until Brown scored three touchdowns in less than four minutes late in the opening half.

“It just kind of snowballed on us,” said Pinyan, who arrived midway through the third period. “They were sending me texts, keeping me updated. We gave up the shanked punt that gave them a short field and made it 14-0. Then you had the double-pass deal that gave them a short field and it was 21. Then another one right at the end of the half after we didn’t manage the ball well.”

Winning coach Mike Newsome said the Wonders spent the night trying to connect all the dots.

“We didn’t focus so much on beating Carson,” he said. “We just wanted to play the game we know we’re capable of playing. We’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle. We’ve just got to put it all together.”

Brown prevailed with its backup quarterback — sophomore Isaiah Black — in the driver’s seat. He passed for 172 yards and three touchdowns in place of injured starter Jordan Medley.

“Isaiah played with a lot of composure,” said offensive coordinator Barry Merritt. “But he’s that kind of kid and he made plays when he had to.”

After directing a 12-play scoring drive to open the game, Black fired a 66-yard touchdown pass to a wide open receiver Jose Vargas with 1:29 remaining in the first half that made it 21-0. Then following a Carson three-and-out, he marched the Wonders 62 yards in five plays for another score with 0:00 on the clock. A Vargas-to-Antonio Knight completion gained 38 yards and set up a 24-yard TD strike to Knight as the half expired.

“We knew they were trying to punch one more in before the half,” said Carson linebacker Jacob Taylor. “There was a lot poor tackling, myself included. We needed to dig down deep, but I don’t think we dug deep enough.”

Carson still trailed by four touchdowns when Pinyan arrived and took the reins from fill-in coach Jason Rollins. He saw Brown go up 35-0 when wideout Steven Robinson sprinted past the secondary and snared a 41-yard TD pass from Black as the fourth quarter unfolded. The Cougars got on the board three-and-a-half minutes later when quarterback Josh Lee directed a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by Hunter Courtney’s 5-yard TD run.

“We just got the ball and pounded it,” Pinyan said. “We didn’t get cute. Some of us were joking that it took us two years but we finally scored on them.”

Carson also scored on its final possession, this time when Justin Smith — half of Pinyan’s two-QB rotation — engineered an 80-yard scoring drive. Smith (8 carries/83 yards) ran the last 19 on a sweep to the left side with just 2:08 to play.

“I’m proud of our team’s effort, especially in the second half,” Smith said. “We did some good things in the first half but couldn’t finish. If a few plays had gone differently, it may have been a different outcome. We were at least a couple of plays away.”

NOTES: Brown senior Jaron Cooper topped all rushers with 103 yards on 14 carries. He scored the Wonders’ final touchdown on a 29-yard ricochet run in the fourth quarter. … Brown took 23 snaps in Carson territory in the first half. The Cougars had three beyond the 50-yard line. … Carson hosts North Rowan next Friday. The Wonders visit Mooresville.