Carrollton wins at Alliance 40-34

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Nick Martin heads up field after catching a pass from quarterback Luke Warner.

By Carol McIntire


Two weeks ago, after Carrollton fell to Salem by one point on a last-minute touchdown, Coach Jim Tsilimos (Coach T) expressed concern that maybe his team scored too early, leaving time for the Quakers to march down the field for the winning score.

Last week against West Branch, Carrollton needed a defensive stop after a momentum swing helped them cut into a 31-0 deficit. A long, time consuming drive by the team from Beloit led to a touchdown and an eventual win.

“We needed one more defensive stop,” Coach T commented after the game.

Friday, on the University of Mt. Union Field against a winless Alliance Aviator team, the Warriors fulfilled both needs.

Carrollton scored with 1:37 left in the game to take a 40-34 win and mounted a defensive stand to preserve the win, the first ever on the Aviators’ field.

Luke Warner, Carrollton quarterback, dove across the goal line low between the legs of an offensive lineman from inside the 1-yard line to give the visitors a 40-34 lead with just over a minute and half remaining in the game.  Oscar Cazares’ extra point kick hit the left upright, bounced down, hit the center post and fell back into the end zone.

With a six-point lead, the Warriors had a hefty task ahead of them: to stop Aviator quarterback Brandon Alexander and running back/wide receiver Kayden Davis, something they struggled with early in the contest. Alexander completed 12 of 23 pass attempts for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Davis picked up 170 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown.

On the Cazares kick off, Carrollton junior Austin Haney dodged defenders, rushed upfield and dropped Aviator Carter Bugera on the Alliance 23-yard line.

On the first-down play, linebacker Justin Naylor burst through the offensive line and forced Alexander to throw an incomplete pass. On third-and-five Doug Rininger chased down Alexander and forced his pass to fall short of the receiver. Alliance converted the fourth down play to continue the drive at their own 35-yard line.

Alexander’s first down pass fell incomplete. Pressure by linebacker Joey Beard on second down forced another incomplete pass, followed by an incomplete pass on third down. The defense put an exclamation point on the contest when, on fourth down, the 6-3, 220-pound Alexander was dragged down in the backfield by Josh Knipp.

“We bent but we didn’t break,” Coach T stated following the game when asked about the performance of his defense.

“I told the kids two things before the game: number one, it’s alright to have butterflies; and number two, don’t be scared. I think last year we were a little scared. This year they came out and played, and yep, I’m proud of them.”

Both teams scored on their first possession of the game. Alliance on the second play from scrimmage when Alexander connected with Davis on a 61-yard pass play. Nathaniel Woerther added the extra point.

Carrollton answered with a long methodical drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock and featured six rushes by sophomore Chase Oehlstrom. A Warner 17-yard completion to Nick Martin set up a first-and-one on the 3-yard line. Warner, on a keeper, sneaked across the goal line for the score. Cazares added the point after to tie the game.

Ovie Jones intercepted a Warner pass early in the second period to set up the second Alliance score. Davis capped off the drive with a 67-yard run to the end zone. Woerther’s kick was blocked.

Less than a minute later, Carrollton responded when Warner connected with receiver Talen Timberlake, who pulled in the 48-yard pass and dragged defensive back Jabril Gilmore into the end zone with him. Cazares’ kick gave the visitors their first lead of the game, 14-13. Warner had his best night of the season, passing for 200 yards on 14 completions.

Alliance put another score on the board just before halftime. Alexander found Tre Hawkins open over the middle for a 38- yard catch and run to the end zone. The two-point conversion put Alliance on top 21-14 at intermission.

“We did what we wanted to do,” Tsilimos said. “We stayed in the I and ran the ball. We got the running game going, which opened up the play action, which is so important. That’s coach T football.”

The Warriors continued playing “Coach T football” in the second half with long, time-consuming drives.

The team opened the second half with an 85-yard, 14-play drive that took just shy of six minutes off the clock. Oehlstrom capped off the drive when he walked into the end zone untouched for a two-yard score. Cazares added the kick to tie the score at 21.

Alliance scored on another big play just a minute later when Alexander found sophomore receiver Carter Bugara open for a 45-yard scoring play. Woerther added the extra point. Alexander finished the night with 267 passing yards on 12 completions.

A 17-yard pass from Warner to Martin set up another first-goal on the Alliance 2-yard-line. Oehlstrom capped off the drive with a run up the middle on the next play. Cazares’ kick tied the game at 28-28.

Carrollton capitalized on an Alliance fumble early in the fourth quarter when Oehlstrom found the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play from the 5-yard line play for his third touchdown of the game. Cazares’ kick was no good, .

Alliance would tie the game once more on a one-yard run by Alexander after the Aviators recovered a Carrollton fumble with 4:18 left in the game.

Tsilimos was proud of the effort of his offense and his one-two backfield punch of Oehlstrom and Joey Beard. Oehlstrom carried the ball 36 times for 196 yards and Beard picked up 31 yards on five carries.

“Joey came in when Chase was tired. I was proud of the way the offensive line played. They did an outstanding job,” he said. “We needed a comeback game and we got it. I’m proud of them. Alliance is well-coached. They have athletes. They are a good 0-5 team.

“…Our  kids came here and, from the first quarter on, played the game. They didn’t wait until the second half.”

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