Blue Devils turn back Warriors
CAREY — In basketball, it might have been one of those ill-advised 3-point attempts when the circumstance demanded patience. The coach yells “Noooooo” all the way up to the moment the shot swishes through. And then smiles abound.
If Carey coach Jonathon Mershman was feeling that way while watching his team’s successful fourth-and-8 fake punt run that kept a game-clinching drive going, well, folks will just have to speculate. Because Mershman’s not saying.
Regardless, he’s generally a happy man after the Blue Devils turned back rival Mohawk 21-6 in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference opener for both at C.D. Wentling Field here Friday night.
“I was 0-2 against Mohawk starting out. This feels great to beat a rival like that and get the first win of the season,” Mershman said after the Blue Devils got their first win in four tries and dropped Mohawk to 2-2.
“I can’t be more proud of our guys tonight,” he said. “They decided to take it to them.”
That wasn’t necessarily the case in the first half, which ended with Mohawk owning a 6-0 lead.
The Warriors gained that edge when quarterback Landen Snyder broke away on a third-and-14 pass play and raced in for a 15-yard touchdown on the first series of the second period. The play capped a 39-yard possession that turned out to be the highlight of the night for Mohawk.
But the second half was a different matter as Carey rang up nine first downs to two for the Warriors and the Blue Devils held a 143-17 advantage in total offense.
It started with a go-ahead drive that was delayed by a major penalty for Carey and later aided by a similar mistake by Mohawk early in the third period. Between them, the Blue Devils went 60 yards in 13 plays with Connor Williams slamming in from the 9 for the score. Anthony Bell’s kick put Carey on top 7-6 with 5:12 left in the quarter.
“We just came out with a different demeanor and will,” Williams said of the uplifted Devil attack. “We had to start finishing drives and bounce back.”
It was “a willingness to finish somebody off blocking in the running game, wanting to impose our will and dominate” that made the difference for his club, Mershman said.
“Some of our sophomores, once they realize they can do this and they can get mean and get aggressive, we’ll be all right,” he said. “The running game is all about attitude. It’s always been that way at Carey.”
Carey’s second possession of the half covered 53 yards before stalling, but Williams put the Blue Devils back in charge with an interception of first-time starter Snyder’s pass. He returned it to the Warrior 7 to set up Brady Curlis’ 1-yard run for a 14-6 lead with 9:22 to play.
“As we continue to get experience, we need to fight through adversity, especially in the fourth quarter,” Mohawk coach Eric Daniel said. “We were up 6-0 at half but we knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle. That’s a good team. You can look at 0-3, but that’s a good team.
“I feel like we kind of shied away from rising up to the challenge in the fourth quarter,” he said. “It’s a holistic thing. Winning and losing is a team effort. I’m a big believer in that.”
Carey’s next possession was a clincher even with the testy moment. On fourth down from the Warrior 39, the punt snap went to up-man Derek Lonsway instead and he slashed for just enough yards to get a first down. Six plays later, Reece Billock scored from a yard out with just 1:17 to play.
“It was a good play, a good call,” Daniel said. “He made a nice cut and bounced it off. They executed on a really pivotal play.”
Mershman’s assessment was a little different. “Yeah, yeah. Uh, yeah. That’s all I’m going to say on that one,” he said. “We’re going with it. We got it. Everything feels great. We’ll sort that out later.”
But for now, smiles abound.