Varsity Football

Red-zone penalty changes the game between Carroll and Heights

Bishop Carroll’s Phoenix Smith tries to bring down Heights’ K’Vonte Baker during the Golden Eagles’ 36-20 win over the Falcons on Friday. (Sept. 7, 2018)
Bishop Carroll’s Phoenix Smith tries to bring down Heights’ K’Vonte Baker during the Golden Eagles’ 36-20 win over the Falcons on Friday. (Sept. 7, 2018) The Wichita Eagle

K’Vonte Baker dropped his head and raised his hands palms up to the rainy sky.

Baker’s 10-yard touchdown had just cut Bishop Carroll’s lead to two in the third quarter — except it didn’t. The run was called back for a block-in-the-back penalty on Heights’ Jamir Johnson. That opened the door for Carroll’s eventual 36-20 win Friday night.

Baker broke several tackles on his way in for the score that wasn’t, but instead of a two-point game, Heights was moved back near the 25 and couldn’t duplicate the magic.

Later in the fourth, Baker broke another touchdown run, but it too was called back for holding. Heights coach Dominick Dingle said he would never put blame on the referees but said if those plays were ruled touchdowns, they could have impacted the final score.

“They were the right calls,” Dingle said.

Carroll coach Dusty Trail said that’s how football goes sometimes. Of course Carroll is going to agree with the calls, and Heights is going to disagree, he said. He was just happy his team was on the positive end of both.

“That (stop) was a huge momentum shift obviously,” Trail said. “That’s just the nature of sports and competition.”

Carroll senior tight end Clay Cundiff scored in his second straight game on a 25-yard fade.

He drew back to week 1 against Northwest to qualify what he saw from the sidelines on the penalty calls.

“Our defense really stepped up there and throughout tonight; they were amazing,” Cundiff said. “We get flags, they get flags. It was right place, right time, and we got the call.

“In the Northwest game, we went back and watched film, and a holding call when we scored a touchdown, it wasn’t holding at all. That’s just how the game is.”

For the Eagles, the win is their first after an emotional 23-22 week-1 loss to Northwest. Running back Jackson Nichols, who scored three touchdowns against the Falcons, said the victory is huge for their confidence.

“We just wanted to improve from last week — that’s all we wanted to do,” he said. “We just wanted to improve, be aggressive, be better. We just went after it (in the) second half.”

The first half was ugly on both sides. With the rain coming down periodically through the game, neither offense caught rhythm until they got used to the slippery ball. And when the Eagles found their stride, there was no stopping them.

Cundiff’s touchdown opened the second half with 8:30 to go in the third quarter. After Baker ran back a 90-yard kickoff return, Nichols ran in for his third score at the start of the fourth.

Almost exactly a minute later off a Heights fumble, quarterback Cade Becker ran it in himself to give Carroll a 36-14 lead with 8:30 to go. There just wasn’t enough time for Baker and the Heights offense to come back.

“I think our offensive line really stepped up tonight,” Cundiff said. “We have a few sophomores on the line, and last game, they probably had some jitters.”

“They weren’t playing like sophomores tonight,” Nichols said. “They were playing like seniors.”

Heights will travel to Dodge City for week 3, looking to build off the loss. Carroll is set to square off against West.