Defensively, Carroll County put together one of its best performances of the season Friday, limiting Richland’s powerful offense to 330 yards. In the end though, the Cavaliers couldn’t muster enough offense of its own in a 28-7 Southwest District loss at Richlands.
With the Blue Tornado double-teaming Carroll County’s top threat Chris Smoot at wideout, the Cavs struggled to get anything going on the offensive end. Although quarterback Connor Lundy hooked up with Smoot for a 24-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-all in the first quarter, Carroll County (1-6, 0-2 SWD) was limited to 100 total yards of offense.
“They double-covered Chris all night so they kind of took us out of our game plan a little bit. We kind of expected that, but they also changed up their defense. They normally run a 6-2 and invert the safeties a lot. They did that early and then got into a 40 look and cut it inside a lot and double-covered us, and it just seemed like we were out of sync,” Carroll County head coach Tom Hale said. “We dropped nine passes and I’m assuming we didn’t have that many drops in all our previous games. We just weren’t in sync and we didn’t do a very good job offensively of picking up their stunts inside.”
Richlands (7-1, 2-0 SWD) also was missing its top receiver, A.J. Johnson, and starting quarterback Grey Baker. With much of its passing attack sidelined, the Blues instead pounded the ball as Colton Staten ran for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 carries.
Richlands struck first after Eric Johnson picked off a Lundy pass at the Carroll 30. Johnson capitalized on the turnover, scoring three plays later on an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Blue Tornadoes up 7-0. After a long kickoff return and a penalty put Carroll in business at the Richlands’ 42, Lundy hooked up with Smoot on the 24-yard touchdown on fourth down. Ryan Ruiz’s extra point tied the game at 7.
Richlands answered later in the opening quarter as Staten scored again, this time on a 50-yard run to put the Blues back in front 14-7. The score stayed that way until halftime as both defenses held each other in check the rest of the first half.
Richlands increased its lead to 20-7 on the first possession of the third quarter as Ben Brown connected with Todd McGlothlin for a 16-yard touchdown. Patrick Davis blocked the extra point.
After holding the Blues on their following possession, Carroll looked to be in businesses when Taylor Case broke an apparent 86-yard touchdown run. The score was taken off the board, however, after a holding penalty.
“I think that was the big turning point for us,” Hale said. “We had a long touchdown run called back, so instead of being 20-14 it was still 20-7. That was a major hit for us emotionally.”
Staten added a 30-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter for a 26-7 lead and Richlands tacked on a safety in the fourth when an errant Carroll snap deep in its own territory went into the end zone for a safety.
“Defensively it was a huge improvement over the previous week. Physically I feel like we did a pretty good job on them and I felt like our kids did a good job overall,” Hale said. “We did give up a couple of big plays at what seemed like critical times, but I think defensively we played pretty well. What hurt us was our offensive performance. We’ve been moving the ball and scoring points since the Mount Airy game, but we just didn’t seem to get on track.”
Patrick Davis had an interception for Carroll and Daniel Wolford led the Cavs with 11 tackles and three assists. Garrett Burcham added seven tackles.
Carroll County will try to get back on track this Friday when it travels to Tazewell. The game will reunite Hale with his former long-time defensive coordinator Shane Allen, who is now the head coach of the Bulldogs’ program.
“I’m torn of course because he and I were so close. I want him to do well, I just don’t him to do well this week and I am sure he feels the same way,” Hale said. “He has a young football team this year but he knows Carroll County, and of course we know him. They are doing basically the same things we are so it should be a heck of a game.”
Carroll7 0 0 0 -7
Richlands 14 0 12 2 - 28
R – Johnson 8 run (Brown kick)
CC – Smoot 24 pass from Lundy (Ruiz kick)
R – Staten 50 run (Brown kick)
R – McGlothlin 16 pass from Brown (kick no good)
R – Staten 30-yard run (run failed)
R – Safety
RUSHING – Alley 10-23, A. Smith 3-19, Lundy 2-5, Davis 6-9, Blankenship 2-minus 14.
PASSING – Lundy 3-23-2 61 yds.
RECEIVING – Case 2-37, Smoot 1-24.