Things were pretty even most of the day prior to the game-situation set, which Carroll won by three points. Prior to that, both teams ran 10 plays each with their first-team offense and defense. Over two series of 10 plays, Carroll and Rural Retreat both scored one touchdown each with their first- and second-team offenses.
“I thought for the first time out with an inexperienced offensive line, they came together and did real well. There wasn’t a series where we didn’t move the ball. On our 10-play series, I thought we moved the ball well,” Carroll County head coach Tom Hale said. “Then in our 1st and 10 series, I thought we moved the ball very well. I’m pleased for the first outing. From all indications, I understood that Rural Retreat was supposed to be a pretty good football team this year and they had some plays to come out on us.”
Both Cavalier quarterbacks played well, with backup Jordan Lamb completing 3-of-7 passes for 91 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown pass to Lee Underwood. Starter Blake Bowman completed 6-of-9 passes for 53 yards. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
Ulises Moreno and Ryne Ayers led the Carroll rushing attack with 76 yards each. Ayers added a 12-yard touchdown run with Carroll’s first-team offense on its second set of 10 plays.
As a team, the Cavaliers gained 288 yards rushing on 50 carries. Carroll finished the scrimmage with 432 yards of total offense, while the Indians racked up 365 yards on 58 plays.
“Overall I am pleased. There are things obviously that we’ve got to work on and get fixed, but I thought our backs executed pretty well overall for the first outing,” Hale said. “It was a pretty decent day.”
Despite the 9-6 score, Carroll controlled the game-situation portion of the scrimmage. Led by a 49-yard Ayers’ run, the Cavaliers marched down to Rural Retreat 5 in five plays. A holding penalty stalled the drive before Moreno booted a 26-yard field goal to put Carroll ahead 3-0.
The Indians responded by driving to the Carroll 35 behind runs of 21, 9 and 9 yards. The Cavs turned Rural Retreat away on a 4th and 1 from the 35, however.
Carroll drove 65 yards on 12 plays on the ensuing series, highlighted by a 22-yard Bowman pass to Brooks Hash. The Cavs also converted a 4th and 2 from the Rural Retreat 25 when Bowman connected with Kody Alley for a 6-yard gain. Ayers added a 9-yard run on the next play, setting up Bowman for a 2-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to the left. The extra point failed, but Carroll led 9-0 after two series.
Rural Retreat went three plays and out on its next series, but Carroll couldn’t convert on 4th and 7 from the Rural Retreat 42. Moreno had a 23-yard scamper and fullback Jacob Mollett carried several defenders for a 14-yard gain before the drive stalled.
On the following and final possession of the game, Rural Retreat converted a 4th and 3 before connecting on a 49-yard touchdown pass on the game’s final play. The extra point failed.
Ayers scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with the first-team offense and Lamb hit a wide-open Underwood for a 62-yard score with the second-team offense earlier in the scrimmage.
Hale said there were plenty of positives to take away from the scrimmage, especially the play of senior Aaron Willard and the offensive line.
“I thought Aaron Willard really stepped it up. We had been working Aaron some at linebacker and a little bit at defensive end. We put him in there at defensive end today and I thought he stepped it up and did real well,” Hale said. “Offensively, I felt like Hunter (Grubb) and Trevor Bolen and Graham Matthews stepped it up (on the offensive line).”
Now in the second year of utilizing a 3-5 defense, Hale was also pleased with the play of the linebacker corps.
“Our linebackers really played well, especially our three stack backers. Overall, all five of them played well. The two outside backers have a pretty tough job so we’ve got a few things we need to work on there, but overall I thought our linebackers did a real good job,” Hale said. “Our secondary had that one pass at the end there and that is one of the things that happens when you put it up there. They didn’t do it on us consistently, so I am not terribly disappointed.”
Carroll’s defensive line will continue to be a work in progress, however. After gaining just 10 yards on its first six plays of the scrimmage, the Indians busted runs of 17, 37 and 17 yards on the next three trap plays. The trap continued to be a problem for Carroll’s defense throughout the scrimmage.
“(We do have) concerns up front on defense. We tended today, which I can understand, to get upfield, but the main play Rural Retreat was running all day that kept coming out was that trap,” Hale said. “That was mainly because we were getting upfield and we don’t want to get upfield. We’ll get it corrected, I think we just need to gear them down a little bit. They were hyped up, but that is going to be one of the biggest things we’ve got to work on this week.”
Carroll hosts Galax at 7:30 p.m. on Friday for the annual benefit scrimmage.
RUSHING — Moreno 7-76, Ayers 6-76, Alley 4-43, Mollett 5-36, Bowman 8-22, Hodges 13-20, Lamb 5-14, Goad 2-1.
PASSING — Bowman 6-9-0 53 yds., Lamb 3-7-0 91 yds.
RECEIVING — Alley 3-24, Hodges 2-12, Underwood 1-62, Hash 1-22, Ayers 1-12, Smoot 1-12.