Billock, Blue Devils stun Roughriders

PHOTO BY ZACH BAKER Carey’s Cade Crawford returns the opening kick-off at Western Reserve Friday.

COLLINS — The play was called.

The moment had arrived.

Carey, the No. 8 seed in Division VI’s Region 22 was 5 yards away from a stunning upset.

But the Blue Devils were also a failed play away from a frustrating loss.

Twenty-four seconds remained in regulation, and Carey was out of timeouts.

Blue Devils running back Reece Billock — who already had burned the Roughriders with a 71-yard touchdown run in the first half — had a message for his teammates.

“I looked at the line,” Billock said. “I was like, ‘you block ’em, I’ll get it in.'”

Billock was true to his word.

Carey quarterback Ethan Beringer pitched the ball to his right. Billock followed his blockers, and found his way into the end zone with 21 seconds left.

Anthony Bell drilled the tie-breaking extra point, and Carey went up 42-41.

Seconds later, the Blue Devils sealed the win when Western Reserve’s Cody Benesh fumbled and Carey’s Landen Kemerly picked the ball up and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown with 11 seconds left. A two-point conversion later, and Carey had secured a 50-41 win.

Carey advances to take on Hillsdale next Friday at a neutral site.

“I’ll take it,” Carey coach Jonathon Mershman said. “I’ll take another one. I’ll take as many as you give me.”

The Blue Devils improved to 6-5.

For most of the second half, Carey had been a step ahead of top-seeded Western Reserve. It had leads of 21-7, 28-14 and 35-21.

But the game changed after a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jude Muenz to Cory Hipp brought Western Reserve to within 35-28 with 4:13 left.

The Roughriders hadn’t stopped the Blue Devils all second half, so coach Ty Stevenson opted for an onside kick.

The Roughriders recovered.

Less than a minute later, Benesh tied the game with a 10-yard touchdown run.

Now, the momentum belonged to the Roughriders.

They forced Carey into a three-and-out — the first time the Blue Devils offense was held since early in the second quarter.

A punt put Western Reserve at its 36; a procedure penalty pushed it back to the 31.

Then Benesh took off. He got a handoff and raced through the Carey defense for a 69-yard touchdown run. With 1:37 remaining, the Roughriders had a six-point lead.

“Pretty crazy,” Stevenson said. “Good football game. Our kids battled all night.”

But the extra point failed. And it gave Carey an opening for its comeback.

But Mershman opted against any big speeches before the final drive.

“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t say a darn thing,” Mershman said. “This crew of guys, they do it. So, I didn’t want to put any more pressure on them.”

So Carey marched down the field. A 13-yard run by Beringer was followed by a 31-yard pass to Ian Yeater. Facing a third-and-7 from the Roughriders’ 14, Beringer completed a 9-yard strike to Conti. That set up the Billock touchdown.

“We all just kind of felt like we could do this, and we all believed,” Billock said.

Carey first took the lead on the final offensive play of the second quarter, when a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Beringer to Bryce Conti gave the Blue Devils a 14-7 edge.

Carey then went up 21-7 on a 37-yard Beringer touchdown throw to Cade Crawford.

Then, the teams traded touchdowns. A 12-yard touchdown catch by the Roughriders’ Nate Perkins was answered by a 2-yard touchdown by the Blue Devils’ Connor Williams. A 1-yard run by Western Reserve’s Cody Benesher was followed by another Billock TD.

Billock finished with 149 yards, three touchdowns.

“Everybody’s growing up … we’re all gelling together,” he said. “It’s awesome.”