Trailing 21-15 at halftime Friday, Abingdon decided to pound the football at Carroll County in the second half. The Cavaliers simply had no answer, giving up 329 rushing yards in the second half alone as the Falcons rallied for a 49-28 Southwest District victory in Hillsville.
By the time Abingdon’s ground game was finished, the Falcons had scored 37 straight points to turn a 21-12 deficit into a 49-21 lead late in the fourth quarter. Abingdon averaged nearly 10 yards per carry in the second half, grinding out 329 yards on 33 rushes, including 14 runs of more than 10 yards. With its ground attack working at such a high level, the Falcons didn’t even attempt a pass in the second half.
“Amazing. What a letdown. What a turnaround,” Carroll County head coach Tom Hale said. “I love the kids, but I really have no explanation on why we just don’t seem to be able to get it done on the defensive side of the ball.”
It was Carroll County (1-5, 0-1 SWD) that supplied the offensive fireworks in the first half. Josh Blankenship ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run on the third play of the game, and Jake Dillon caught a 2-point conversion pass to give the Cavs a quick 8-0 lead.
Connor Lundy, who finished with 242 passing yards, added a 4-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Case and a 48-yard scoring strike to Blankenship on a beautiful hookup to put Carroll in front 21-12 with 59 seconds left in the half. Abingdon cut it to 21-15 on a 32-yard field goal from Mitchell Ludwig on the last play of the opening half.
A 2-yard Trevis Lightfoot touchdown run gave Abingdon its first lead at 22-21 late in the third quarter. From that point on, the Falcons dominated.
Grant Pennings, who finished with 223 rushing yards on 25 carries, rumbled in from two yards out to up Abingdon’s advantage to 29-21 with 8:27 to play. After Carroll went three plays and out on the ensuing possession, the Falcons took over at the Carroll 2 after a botched exchange between the long snapper and punter. Hunter Norris ran it in from there on the following play, increasing Abingdon’s lead to 36-21.
After another Carroll three and out, back-to-back runs of 42 and 16 yards by Pennings set the Falcons up at the Cavalier 10. Pennings scored two plays later, this time from two yards out to make it 43-21 Abingdon.
Johnathan Head added a 10-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes to play, giving the Falcons 37 unanswered points and a 49-21 cushion.
Kody Alley put Carroll County back on the board with 35 seconds left with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle. The Cavaliers finished with 474 yards of offense as Blankenship had a breakout night with 93 yards rushing on four carries and 160 yards of total offense. Chris Smoot also had another big game, hauling in eight Lundy passes for 125 yards, while Patrick Davis ran for 84 yards on just four carries.
But on the other side of the ball, Carroll gave up 510 yards as Abingdon rushed the ball 55 times for 437 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per run.
“I know we have a lot of players playing two ways but they do too, so that is no excuse. We have to step up and play better defense,” Hale said. “It’s embarrassing to give up that many yards. They didn’t do anything we didn’t see or didn’t plan for and work on all week.”
Abingdon 0 15 7 27 - 49
Carroll8 13 0 7 - 28
CC – Blankenship 75 run (Dillon pass from Lundy)
A – Vance 25 pass from Arnold (kick blocked)
CC – Case 9 pass from Lundy (Ruiz kick)
A – Hart 30 pass from Arnold (pass failed)
CC – Blankenship 48 pass from Lundy (kick failed)
A – Ludwig 32 field goal
A – Lightfoot 2 run (Ludwig kick)
A – Pennings 2 run (Ludwig kick)
A – Norris 2 run (Ludwig kick)
A – Pennings 2 run (Ludwig kick)
A – Head 10 run (kick failed)
CC – Alley 3 run (Ruiz kick)
Passing Yards73 242
Passing 6-13-0 16-33-0
Penalties-Yards 8-40 7-54
Possession 29:14 18:46
RUSHING – Pennings 25-223, Lightfoot 12-81, Head 6-53, Norris 2-49, Arnold 7-27, Hess 2-5, Team 1-minus 1.
PASSING – Arnold 6-13-0 73 yds.
RECEIVING – Hart 2-39, Vance 1-25, Hess 2-11, Pennings 1-minus 2.
RUSHING – Blankenship 4-93, Davis 4-84, Lundy 5-27, Alley 4-23, Dillon 5-11, Smoot 1-0, Team 1-minus 6.
PASSING – Lundy 16-33-0 242 yds.
RECEIVING – Smoot 8-125, Blankenship 3-67, Case 5-50.