Choosing to send its defense out to start the game wasn’t looking like the best decision for Bishop Carroll.
The Golden Eagle defense that stifled Kapaun Mount Carmel a week ago in the regular season finale didn’t look quite the same as the Crusaders picked up yards in chunks to start Friday night’s rematch in the 5A first round, allowing 50 yards on the first five plays.
That pace was abruptly halted by a five-yard sack followed by another tackle for loss, and a missed 51-yard field goal later and Carroll was off, storming to a 41-8 victory at Carroll.
“We just didn’t execute early,” Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. “We wanted to come out and start fast offensively. We’ve been doing that the last few games, and then kind of stumbling late, but this time it was the other way around. We started slow then got rolling.”
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After those 50 yards in five snaps, Kapaun managed 44 over its next 40 plays until its lone touchdown drive of the game late in the fourth quarter, giving the Eagle offense plenty of time to gain its legs.
After an initial three-and-out, Carroll covered 78 yards in 12 plays, with Adam Theis bursting 18 yards up the gut to cap that drive three minutes into the second quarter.
Getting the ball back two minutes later, it was John Winter coming down with a 40-yard catch down the seam to set the Eagles up at the 1 yard line, and Theis punched it in from there to double the lead.
After a quick Kapaun punt on the ensuing drive, Carroll’s big plays got even bigger. Two passes by quarterback Braden Howell fell incomplete, but his third-down attempt was a strike to sophomore Clay Cundiff. The tight end finished it off by rumbling 73 yards down the right sideline to stake the Eagles to a 21-0 advantage.
“We came out a little sluggish,” said Howell, who finished the game 19 of 28 for 319 yards and three scores. “We had some mental mistakes, but once we got that pulled together, we started making big plays.
Another quick touchdown to open the second half put even more distance between Carroll and Kapaun, and the Eagles burned seven minutes off the clock late in the third quarter to score again.
By the time the Crusaders found their footing again, it was already 41-0. Kapaun’s score was the result of two big tosses from Nick Degenhardt to Connor Shank, the latter of the two a 16-yarder for the touchdown.
With the win, Carroll moves on to face fourth-seeded Goddard, a 52-0 winner over Salina South, on the road in next week’s second round.
“We’re going to get everyone’s best football when it’s elimination time,” Schuckman said. “We just have to do a better job of being consistent. We have a lot more to prove.”
C — Theis 18 run (Steven kick)
C — Theis 1 run (Steven kick)
C — Cundiff 73 pass from Howell (Steven kick)
C — Nichols 20 pass from Howell (kick blocked)
C — Helten 6 pass from Howell (Steven kick)
C — Linnebur 19 run (Farina kick)
K — Shank 19 pass from Degenhardt (Shank pass from Ferraro)
Rushing — Kapaun, Heiland 11-46, Channel 7-35, Paul 2-17, Degenhardt 11-(-31). Carroll, Theis 18-93, Gottschalk 7-19, Howell 3-16, Linnebur 10-52.
Passing — Kapaun, Degenhardt 6-19-92-0. Carroll, Howell 19-28-319-1, Becker 1-1-9-0.
Receiving — Kapaun, Shank 2-54, Channel 2-17, Schmitz 1-7, Williams 1-14. Carroll, Nichols 5-48, Robben 4-52, Cundiff 2-86, Winter 3-61, Helten 4-58, Theis 1-14, Rohleder 1-9.