Carey gets big play at end of half, takes care of Van Buren

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Carey’s Griffin Summit gets behind defenders to make a long yardage catch, heading to the end zone as time expires in the first half against Van Buren Friday.

CAREY — The setting was such that Carey coach Jonathon Mershman was saying “Why not?”

Six seconds later, no one could blame Van Buren coach J.T. Bates for lamenting “Why us?”

The obligatory Hail Mary pass that almost no one ever hits was a winner for Carey at the close of the first half here Friday night. The momentum carried for the Blue Devils in the second half for a season-opening 35-16 win.

Thomas Piccirillo had banged a 22-yard field goal to seemingly give Van Buren a 3-0 halftime edge. All that remained was to ride out the remaining 50 seconds.

Two plays netted one yard for Carey before Mershman called timeout for one final play with six seconds left. Junior quarterback Ethan Beringer watched as Griffin Summit slipped open past a stumbling defender and hit him in stride for a stunning 79-yard touchdown that sent the Blue Devils into the locker room with a 7-3 advantage.

“We were supposed to be in our prevent and we were,” Bates said. “We knew where they wanted to go — to their best athlete — and he just ran right by him. He made a heck of a throw and a heck of a catch. We kind of stumbled on our backpedal but it had to be a perfect throw and it was.”

It was an opportunity the Blue Devils weren’t about to waste.

“We knew we were going to go deep and the corner just fell down,” Summit said. “He started backpedaling right away, but as soon as he fell, I knew I was gone. (Beringer) threw me a perfect ball.”

“Not very high at all,” Beringer said when asked for his rating of the chances for success. “We got lucky pretty much. But it helped us get on a roll for sure.”

As for Mershman, he stuck with “Why not?”

“We were thinking maybe we can get a pass interference call and go from there,” Mershman said. “When the corner fell down I was like, ‘Just don’t overthrow it and we’re good to go.'”

Good to go, they were, but not right away.

The Black Knights, in fact, regained the lead at 10-7 on Brandon Smith’s 56-yard catch-and-sprint of a Brady Rader pass on the first possession of the second half.

But trouble was coming and it hit in a big way.

Van Buren allowed a first down before forcing a punt. But the kick was muffed and Conner Williams recovered for Carey on the Knight 34. Jordan Dasher gained 27 yards on a fourth-and-7 sweep to set up Austin Hertel’s 4-yard TD run and Carey was back on top at 14-10 with 4:09 still to play in the third period.

That was the first of four straight touchdowns for the Blue Devils.

“The fact that they (hit the long bomb) and we came out and answered and got the lead again, I was impressed with my guys for that,” Bates said.

“Obviously, turnovers are a big part of a football game and final outcome,” he said. “We didn’t take advantage of turnovers we forced by scoring points and Carey did. We had some turnovers and Carey took advantage and scored points. That shifted the momentum and was a big reason the wheels kind of fell of for us a little bit.”

Hertel’s 60-yard burst was key in setting up Jordan Dasher’s 8-yard scoring run for a 21-10 lead early in the fourth period.

Then Beringer hit Summit over the middle and the latter kept running across and then up the sideline for a 46-yard score. Beringer completed 9 of 17 passes for 224 yards in his first start and Summit caught three of those for 146 yards and a couple scores.

“He made some really good throws and he made some inaccurate throws,” Mershman said. “He needs to get a little more consistent and we’ll keep working on that. We think he’s got a lot of upside.”

Dasher’s interception set up Carey’s final score, a 3-yard smash by Willie Schafer, who was one of six rushers who combined for 230 yards. Hertel’s 78 yards on six carries and Dasher’s nine runs for 55 led the way.

“Once we settled down in the second half, I think you saw what we can do,” Mershman said.

It all added up to a big night, even if it began with a prayer.