Carey rallies past Mohawk

SYCAMORE – Todd Worst chose his words carefully, which is another way of saying what goes on in the locker room stays in the locker room.

“We questioned how hard they were playing. Let’s just say that,” Worst said of the Carey coaches-to-players halftime discussion here Friday night.

At that moment, the Blue Devils were trailing 13-6 to Wyandot County rival Mohawk in the Midland Athletic League-opener.

Seventeen first downs, 246 yards and, most importantly, four touchdowns later, it was evident the point had been made as the Blue Devils rallied for a 36-19 win.

“Basically, we had to point out the fact that we have enough good athletes up front and we have enough good athletes in the backfield,” Worst said. “And it’s going to take somebody to step up, take charge and be leaders.

“That was probably the theme I guess you’d say at halftime.”

There were multiple themes after that and most of them worked in Carey’s favor.

Bryan Powers ran 17 times for 202 yards and scored three second-half touchdowns. Brandon Zechman added 132 yards on 11 tries and added two scores as the Blue Devils evened their record at 2-2 while dropping Mohawk to 0-4.

Before that, the Warriors seemingly had their rivals on the run, although each landed a few haymakers at the outset.

Mohawk’s Gunnar Johnson returned the opening kick 40 yards and then broke off a 39-yard run to set up Eric Maskey’s 2-yard run. He added the extra point kick for a 7-0 edge just 57 seconds into the game.

Carey needed less time to counter as Zechman took a pitch to the left and raced 70 yards for a score with 10:46 still to go in the quarter. But the Blue Devils trailed 7-6 after a high snap forced an unsuccessful pass for the extras.

Maskey averaged 47 yards on three first-half punts and the Warriors benefited from three early Carey fumbles.

They stretched the lead to seven with a 78-yard drive that featured quarterback Grant Gucker running 20 yards for one first down and tossing a 35-yard pass to Mitch Parker for another. Johnson got the touchdown on a 4-yard run.

Like the first half, the two teams traded relatively quick scores to start the third period.

Powers’ 40-yard touchdown run and successful run for the extras put the Blue Devils up briefly at 14-13.

But Johnson had a 45-yard kick return and Maskey picked up his second TD on a 25-yard burst to make it 19-14 with 6:55 left in the third period.

The problem was in trying to stop the Blue Devils, who scored on four of their five second-half possessions.

“Perimeter plays have hurt us,” Mohawk coach Erik Baker said. “We’re young on the perimeter in some spots and people have been able to exploit that.”

Zechman’s 30-yard return and a penalty put Carey in business at the Warrior 20 and Powers eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 8-yard run.

He later carried five straight times for 89 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown sprint.

“It all starts with the offensive line,” Powers said. “The line made a big hole for me and I just happened to put a move or two on one of them and was just able to break out from there.

“Coach really harped on holding onto the ball all week,” he said. “He told me to look for the cutback. They’re not going to be ready for it.”

“I kept telling him to take short choppy steps,” Worst said. “To make a cut, you’ve got to have those short steps. He’s got pretty quick feet and that’s a benefit to himself and obviously to our offense.”

The Blue Devils had one more drive of 94 yards, with Zechman getting the score on a 6-yard run.

“Everything we practiced went well,” Baker said. “We lost on fundamentals. It wasn’t trick plays or big pass plays. It was blocking and tackling.

“I truly think we’re getting better, but you can’t give up 30 points in the second half in any game, and especially a Carey-Mohawk game, and recover from that.”

Clearly, and probably not all that subtly, Worst and staff made their point.