TAD storms 'Toppers
Photo by Danny Davis
Derek Carr ran wild for the T.A. Dugger varsity on Tuesday night.
While the Jr. 'Toppers traveled by bus Monday night to Rider Field, the T.A. Dugger Cyclones decided to it was simply best to rely on the Carr. With Derek Carr amassing 215 yards on 19 carries, Betsy was able to capture a 14-8 win over Science Hill.
After starting the year at 0-3, the Cyclones won their final four games, clinching a spot in next week's playoffs.
"Never have I seen anything like this," said Cyclone head coach John Oakley. "To go from where we started to where we finished is a tribute to our kids."
Science Hill threatened on its opening possession, but a big stick by Zach Coggins on Caleb Mancuso deflated the Hilltopper drive, giving 'Betsy possession on the 39. The Cyclones, however, ran only two plays before a fumble gave the ball back to Science Hill.
The 'Toppers started another drive but came up short when Julian Smith laid the wood to Armando Canepa on a run up the middle, then Kyle Wash broke up a pass on fourth down.
T.A. Dugger received a nice pass and catch play from Jordan Meredith to Bruce Crumley, but Jeff Green spoiled the party by sacking Meredith for a sizable loss on third down. Issac Kinnley brought the 'Topper crowd to its feet with a 27-yard run, only to be dragged down on a nice tackle by Cody Forbes.
A pass interference on 'Betsy gave Science Hill possession at the four, where Kinnley scored on the next play. Skylar DeJesus added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 advantage.
Running on three cylinders up to this point, Coach Oakley decided it was time to fine tune the Carr. On the first play after the kickoff, the speedy Carr accelerated for a 67-yard touchdown along the right sideline to ignite the 'Betsy crowd.
"I am really proud of my team," Carr said. "We worked so hard after that 0-3 start to become a good football team."
"My offensive line played well tonight and I give them a lot of credit. I am looking forward at playing in the playoffs."
Meredith's pass to Vic "The Animal" Deloach tied the score at 8-8 with 2:35 remaining in the half. The score remained deadlocked at the half.
The second half belonged to Carr as the Cyclone tailback sometimes made the Hilltopper defense appear like a demolition derby. His 32-yard run followed by a 15-yard Meredith to Deloach pass moved the ball to the eight yard line.
After another seven yards by Carr, the 'Topper defense stopped 'Betsy on three straight tries, including a big fourth-down roadblock by Ashlon Adams. Moses Greene broke loose for a 31-yard gain, but was caught from behind by Crumley, preventing a touchdown.
'Betsy got the ball back with two minutes remaining, and a Crumley 47-yard run put the Cyclone offense back in business at the 33. Carr proceeded to run over defenders en route to 15 and 13 yards, placing the ball at the five.
From there Meredith bootlegged his way in from five yards out, giving 'Betsy its 14-8 lead. Julian Smith's interception on the last play of the game sealed the deal.
The Cyclone backfield accounted for 271 yards rushing behind the blocking of Zach Coggins, Schaun Carter, J.T. Lyons, Nick Hubbard and Landon Honeycutt. Jerry Berkley had two receptions while breaking up two passes on the defensive side.
Ethan Meredith made some nice plays on special teams while Kendall Wash and Jeremy Simerly turned in outstanding efforts for the Cyclones.
"This is only the second time in 11 years that we've beaten Science Hill," Oakley said. "Coach Brian Culbert has done a remarkable job with the defense. I appreciate his dedication and coaching ability. Brian is a big reason for our team's success."
"I applaud each and every kid on our football team. This has been a great group of players to work with."
What appeared to be a mismatch in size and numbers saw the Cyclones stand toe to toe with a much bigger and faster Indian Trail team. The Hawks used a 45-yard run by Nick Arrendondo to take a 6-0 lead at the half.
Preston Itaro had runs of 33 and 21 yards in the first half while Zach Boles sliced off a 38-yard gain. A fumble stopped one Cyclone drive while an interception stopped another at the 20.
Chris Kelly was a manchild on defense in the second half, recording 10 tackles. Knox Eryasa, Ryan Thomas, Justin Bailey, Logan Loving and Michael Hutchins were in on key tackles throughout the game, and Daniel Bowers had a sack on the quarterback.
T.A. Dugger used a booming 52-yard punt by Matt Febuary to pin the Hawks back on the six, but a 43-yard run by Marcus Stout helped lead to a four-yard touchdown run by Arredondo. Arredondo added a 55-yard scoring toss to Austin McCook for a 20-0 advantage.
T.A. Dugger got on the board when Boles found Itaro on a 54-yard touchdown pass. The Cyclones added a 22-yard run by Daniel Moore, but came up short as time ended.
One highlight was the play of the offensive line where Kelly, February, Hutchins, Drew Chambers, Moore and fullback Nick Jenkins helped open up holes against a much bigger Indian Trail defensive front. The Cyclone backs finished with 147 yards on the ground, with Itaro rushing for 82 yards to lead the attack.
"The seventh-grade team improved so much against some very good football teams," said varsity coach Oakley. "Coach (Daniel) Proffitt and Coach (Travis) Smithdeal did a great job with these kids. "They might have been outsized tonight, but they played hard the entire game."