West quarterback DJ Jones walked off the field Friday with a bandaged shoulder. His teammate, defensive lineman Mike Rios, used a crutch to aid an ailing leg.
Sometimes taking the fight to the champion has its consequences. The Pioneers threw a huge scare into reigning Class 5A and City League winner Bishop Carroll, but the host Eagles overcame four turnovers and held off West 20-10 for their 17th consecutive victory.
Carroll (4-0), No. 1 in 5A, wiped out a 10-0 deficit by limiting West to 19 second-half yards. But the Eagles didn’t feel secure about their win until linebacker Tommy Marquez snagged an interception with just less than three minutes remaining.
“It wasn’t a very good offensive performance by us, but I give them a lot of credit,” Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. “Their kids played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion, and we didn’t have it tonight.”
Two first-quarter fumbles by Carroll stirred upset hopes for West, which entered the game 3-0 for the first time since 2001. Even after the Pioneers’ first possession ended with an interception on a fake punt, they dominated the opening quarter, controlling the ball for more than nine minutes.
“We thought we could win,” West coach Weston Schartz said. “We’ve been watching a lot of film on them. And we can play. We were still right there in the fourth quarter.”
The Pioneers finished with 134 yards – 19 in the second half. But with running back Trevon Mitchell churning out 98 yards on 10 first-half carries, they gained the upper hand. Kicker Devin Daignault capped a 51-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal in the final minute of the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Carroll’s Jacob Fayette mishandled a high kick and West recovered at the Carroll 31.
Mitchell gained 12 yards on the first play after the turnover. Two plays later, he took a pitch and looked to throw a halfback pass, but pulled the ball down and ran 18 yards to the Carroll 2. Mitchell followed it with a plunge into the end zone and Daignault’s extra point stretched West’s lead to 10-0 two plays into the second quarter.
“It couldn’t have started any better for us,” Schartz said. “I think a lot of people think Carroll doesn’t make mistakes, but they do. And we were able to capitalize.”
Carroll scored midway through the second quarter on a 10-play, 77-yard march. Quarterback Tyler Skilling completed 3 of 4 passes on the drive, including a 6-yard slant to Blake Newell for a touchdown.
That didn’t totally alter momentum for Carroll. But in the third quarter, junior Denzel Goolsby’s punt return did.
Goolsby return West’s first punt of the third quarter 62 yards to the Pioneers’ 25. A holding call threatened the drive, but on third and goal, Goolsby crashed in from 5 yards out to give the Eagles a 13-10 lead.
Two possessions later, Goolsby hauled in a screen pass from Skilling and motored 42 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-10.
With backfield mate Tory Smith rushing for 137 yards on 25 carries, Carroll established its 1-2 punch. Throughout the second half, West defenders were sidelined with injuries. Rios, who recovered a fumble, was injured in the first quarter and didn’t return.
“They wore us down,” Schartz said.
West, who lost Jones in the third quarter to injury, got a 98-yard interception return from Marcus Malcolm with 3:02 remaining. But an illegal block negated the touchdown, and the Pioneers turned the ball over on the next play.
Smith ran for 95 yards on 18 second-half carries as Carroll finished with 300 yards of total offense. Still, it was by far the Eagles’ toughest test during their current winning streak, and the battered Pioneers left with Carroll’s respect.
“Weston has those kids believing, and that’s half of the battle,” Schuckman said. “As for us, we made a lot of mistakes, but every one we made is a correctable mistake.
“I thought our defense was outstanding. We have a lot to reflect on after this one, but it’s always better to teach after a win.”
W—Daignault 27 FG
W—Mitchell 2 run (Daignault kick)
BC—Newell 6 pass from Skilling (kick failed)
BC—Goolsby 5 run (Lopez kick)
BC—Goolsby 42 pass from Skilling (Lopez kick)
Rushing – West, Mitchell 17-115, Johnson 1-1, Collins 4-0, Reed 4-0, Saunders 1-(-1), Capps 1-(-7), DJ Jones 6-(-16). Carroll, Smith 25-137, Goolsby 7-48, Howell 3-2, Newell 1-1, Skilling 6-(-1).
Passing – West, DJ Jones 4-6-34-0, Capps 1-3-1-2, Mitchell 0-1-0-1. Carroll, Skilling 6-18-103-1.
Receiving – West, Malcolm 2-25, Henriquez 2-7, Reed 1-3. Carroll, Goolsby 2-43, Linnebur 2-23, Smith 1-31, Newell 1-6.