High school football: Painful OT loss for Cougars

Published 4:40 am Monday, August 28, 2023


Staff report

OAKBORO — Carson and West Stanly had no history, but they scrapped like old and bitter rivals on Friday.

West Stanly took a 28-20 victory in overtime.

It came down to the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was enforced against Carson following West Stanly’s touchdown in OT. Instead of trying to score from the 10, Carson had to try to go 25 yards in four downs. That’s a tall order, and the Cougars (0-2) weren’t able to fill it.

West Stanly (2-0) is a good team, a physical, methodical, power-running squad that was difficult for Carson to stop.

The Colts dominated the early stages of the game, drove 60 yards for a first-quarter touchdown, tacked on a 2-point conversion that would loom large as the night progressed, and completely shut down Carson’s run-heavy offense. The Cougars had zero first downs in the first quarter.

The tide begin to swing in the second quarter when Carson defensive backs flew up in run support and popped the ball loose from a West Stanly back. Nehemiah Baldwin recovered the fumble at the West Stanly 35. That play got the Cougars energized.

Carson’s offense took advantage of the short field provided by the fumble recovery, and Jay McGruder powered into the end zone with 7:41 left in the first half. A pass attempt for two points failed, but the Cougars were back in the game, trailing 8-6.

One of Carson’s best offensive plays of the night came with 23 seconds left in the half when Michael Guiton connected with Carson Aman in the end zone. Aman is a terrific athlete, a track and field phenom, and made quite a catch. Aman had body-bumped half his teammates before he saw the yellow flag on the ground. The play was nullified, and Carson trailed 8-6 at the break.

Carson came out of the locker room with some fire. McGruder broke a 40-yard run to set up a scoring burst by Makani Guida. Guiton was stopped on a keeper when he tried to add two points, but Carson had the lead at 12-8 with 9:53 left in the third quarter.

The Colts answered with a 65-yard scoring drive. Carson stopped the 2-point conversion, but West Stanly led 14-12 with 3:55 left in the third quarter.

West Stanly stopped Carson on fourth-and-short at the West Stanly 45, but Aman recovered a fumble for the Cougars as the third quarter ended. Still, 14-12.

West Stanly put together what looked certain to be a clinching drive in the fourth quarter, chewing the clock and pushing through Carson’s defense with steady gains.

With 3:34 lef to play, West Stanly scored with a surprise pass play (Jett Thomas to Roman Huneycutt) from the Carson 1. That made it 20-12, but Carson stayed alive by stuffing a 2-point conversion run up the middle. It was still a one-score game, and the Cougars still believed they were going to win it.

Carson began a desperate drive against the Colts and against the clock from the Cougar 29. There was a long way to go, but Carson got 32 yards in a hurry when Guiton threw deep and Aman came down with the ball at the West Stanly 39.

On fourth-and-goal from the 6 and with the clock moving under a minute left in regulation. Guiton threw a touchdown pass to Trevor Vaughn. Aman ran a fade route that helped clear the area, and Vaughn made some space for himself in the end zone and snagged the dart that Guiton sent his way.

Then Carson got the 2-pointer it had to have. There were strong blocks up front, and McGruder slashed diagonally into the end zone standing up. It was 20-all.

Londyn Johnson intercepted a West Stanly pass with two seconds left in regulation to help set up the overtime session.

Things went West Stanly’s way in the overtime. Colin Bumgarner scored the decisive touchdown on third down from the 1, and the Colts went outside to get the 2-point conversion for 28-20.

Aman got open on second down on Carson’s possession, but the Colts’ Jahmere Blyden recovered and broke up the play as he leapt into Aman. On third down, Guiton threw into a flock of players in the same corner of the end zone. Cougars Colin Ball and Cooper Hinson were there and had a chance, but there was a lot of contact, and Blyden won the battle. He came away with the game-sealing interception.

Breyden Lambert had two rushing TDs for the Colts.

Carson plays Piedmont (0-2) at home next. West Stanly gets Albemarle (0-2) next.