Varsity Kansas

Carroll recovers in time, tops Kapaun

Bishop Carroll's Jalen Hernandez breaks a few tackles on a scoring drive in the 3rd quarter against Kapaun at Bishop Carroll High Friday. (Oct. 7, 2011)
Bishop Carroll's Jalen Hernandez breaks a few tackles on a scoring drive in the 3rd quarter against Kapaun at Bishop Carroll High Friday. (Oct. 7, 2011) The Wichita Eagle

Kapaun Mount Carmel's offense was already heading off the field early in the third quarter when Bishop Carroll junior Zach Befort jumped up and thrust an arm into the air.

He was holding the football proudly, having recovered it after teammate Bradyn Butcher punched it loose on a tackle.

It was a moment for celebration. Carroll had been trying to overcome mistake after mistake.

After the recovery, Carroll's offense put together an 86-yard game-tying drive en route to a 20-13 City League win over visiting Kapaun.

Carroll (5-1, 5-1) has won 13 straight over the Crusaders (4-2, 4-2).

"It was a huge stop, and then it was a huge drive to take it down and score," Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. "Those two things kind of gave our confidence back."

Carroll had missed multiple first-half opportunities. Kapaun fumbled the opening kickoff and Carroll recovered it at the Crusaders' 17 — but missed a 33-yard field goal just 50 seconds in.

The Eagles' second possession started at the Kapaun 36 — and ended when Jack Martin intercepted Carroll quarterback Zeke Palmer at the Kapaun 14 seven minutes into the game.

"We were struggling big time," said Palmer, who threw for 96 yards, but had minus-15 rushing at the half. "It seemed like every play, someone missed something, including me. I missed a lot. And our offensive line missed something. Every single play, someone didn't do their job, and it affected us."

Kapaun used a physical running game and put together an 11-play drive, capped by Nathan Degenhardt's 13-yard pass to Austin Griffith for a 7-0 lead with 5:49 remaining in the first half.

"We overcame that mistake early on, (overcame) field position, and when we fought through that first quarter scoreless, that was a big thing," Kapaun coach Dan Adelhardt said. "We dodged some bullets, played well."

While Carroll's coaches implored the Eagles not to panic at halftime, to simply cut down on their mistakes and execute, Carroll opened the second half by fumbling the kickoff.

The Crusaders drove to the Carroll 10, the game in control.

But then Butcher hit Degenhardt —"he destroyed him," Befort said — and fumbled.

"That got us fired up," Palmer said.

He led Carroll on a 17-play drive with six pass completions, including a left-handed throw to Scott Linnebur to the Kapaun 1.

With the score tied, Carroll's defense forced a Kapaun punt and then a turnover on downs on fourth-and-four.

"As a coaching staff, we felt we needed to do it," Adelhardt said. "We saw something we thought we could get four yards on."

It was another important momentum shift, and Carroll responded with a nine-play drive — all running plays — which Hernandez capped with a 10-yard run.

"I have to give it to my offensive line," Hernandez said. "They did a lot better than in the first half. I just found the creases and accelerated through them like coach teaches."

Hernandez finished with 126 rushing yards on 24 carries.

"We did a better job of maintaining blocks," Schuckman said of his team's improved second-half offense. "We didn't do a very good job of that in the first half."

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