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Carrollton defensive stand preserves 39-34 league win
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By Carol McIntire
Forty-eight minutes of football between two high-powered offenses came down to the final three minutes of the game at Sebo Stadium in Salem Friday night.
The Salem Quakers’ high-powered offense, engineered by quarterback Jackson Johnson, and the Carrollton Warriors’ punishing ground game, led by senior tailback Chase Oehlstrom, were unstoppable for over three quarters of play.
Then, in a matter of minutes, both defenses came to life. It was Carrollton’s defense that earned the 39-34 win when they stopped Salem short on a fourth down call with 50 ticks left on the game clock.
“It was a typical Carrollton-Salem game,” Carrollton Coach Jim Tsilimos said standing in the middle of the field following the game. “I’m just proud of our kids because they didn’t quit.”
Tsilimos’ “kids” didn’t quit.
Leading 39-34 with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter, Carrollton faced two critical fourth down calls in a matter of less than three minutes.
On a fourth-and-one play from their own 45-yard line, Tsilimos kept his offense on the field. On the play, Salem was flagged for an illegal chop block that moved the ball to the Salem 45-yard line and kept the drive alive.
Oehlstrom and Brock Smith, who split carries all night, moved the ball to the Salem 41-yard line where Quakers’ Coach Ron Johnson began taking time outs to preserve the clock. Oehlstrom picked up 16 yards and another first down on the Salem 33-yard line. Johnson took another time out with 2:07 on the clock.
Three plays netted seven yards and the Warriors found themselves facing another fourth down.
Tsilimos called a time out to discuss the play and sent quarterback Cadyn Smith under center, trying to draw the Quakers offside with a hard count. The attempt was unsuccessful and, after a time out, Oehlstrom was stopped short of the line to gain.
Salem was going to get the ball back with 2:02 left on the clock.
Carrollton was fully aware 2:02 was more than enough time for Johnson to engineer a game winning drive, as it took Salem only 1:32 to march down the field and score a touchdown at the end of the second quarter after Carrollton scored with 1:57 on the clock.
The Carrollton defense rose to the occasion.
Salem picked up a quick 15 yards on a pass from Johnson to Gavin Wilms. Johnson then connected with Caden Swiger to move the ball to the Carrollton 45. The Warriors were flagged for pass interference and the ball was moved to the Carrollton 30. A holding call on Salem moved the ball back to the 50-yard line, setting the Quakers up in an unfavorable first-and-30 situation.
Johnson threw two incomplete passes before the Carrollton defense tackled Johnson in the backfield for the first sack of the game. On a fourth-and-26 play from Carrollton’s 42-yard line, Johnson threw a pass that sailed over the Carrollton defense and the receiver and into the end zone but Carrollton was flagged for pass interference, moving the ball to the Carrollton 30-yard line and keeping the hopes of screaming Salem fans alive. However, the penalty yardage was not enough for a first down. On the fourth down play after the penalty yardage was marked off, Carrollton senior Zack Perorazio drug the Salem receiver out of bounds short of the first down marker in front of the Carrollton bench.
As Carrollton fans celebrated, a penalty flag was thrown on the field, necessitating a conference between officials. A Carrollton player was ejected, but since the flag came after the play was blown dead, Salem was forced to turn the ball over on downs and Smith took a knee on the next two plays in victory formation to run out the clock.
Tsilimos was happy with the play of his team, saying his staff “challenged them” after last week’s disappointing loss to Alliance.
“They came out and performed well,” he said. “Salem is a good football team. We beat a good team. The Johnson boy does a lot for them.”
He spoke about the fourth down play in the fourth quarter when his team came up short.
“We thought maybe we could pull them offside and, if we didn’t, we were going to call a time out, which we did, and then we ran Chase. He’s the guy – you want the ball in his hands.”
Oehlstrom was the primary source of offense for the Warriors, carrying the ball 37 times for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Oehlstrom, along with teammates Brock Smith and Cadyn Smith, accounted for every yard of Carrollton’s offensive output – 392 yards, all of which came on the ground. Brock Smith picked up 114 yards of 12 carries and Cadyn Smith added 10 on three carries.
Carrollton drew first blood after Salem’s eight-minute opening drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs at the Carrollton 6-yard line. The Warriors marched 94 yards in 12 plays with Oehlstrom going to the final five yards for the touchdown, which came early in the second quarter. The extra point kick was blocked.
Salem took its only lead of the game on a Donnie Oesch returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Haden Tomidajewicz’s extra point kick was good for a 7-6 lead.
Oehlstrom’s second touchdown came on Carrollton’s next possession when he dragged a host of Salem defenders eight yards in the end zone. Quentin Rosenberger’s extra point kick was good to put the visitors back on top 13-7.
Brock Smith, who split carries with Oehlstrom all night, broke through the defense and scampered 69 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown with 1:59 left in the first half.
Salem cut the deficit to 19-14 at intermission with the quick touchdown.
Carrollton’s momentum carried into the second half when senior Nathan Baker returned the second half kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. The extra point kick was blocked.
The two Eastern Buckeye Conference teams then traded touchdowns.
Johnson scored on an 11-yard run and Tomidajewicz’s kick was good.
Oehlstrom scored on a two-yard run and Lawson Irwin’s extra point was good.
Johnson found Oesch wide open on the left side for a 39-yard catch and run touchdown and Tomidajewicz’s kick was good to close out the third quarter scoring with Carrollton leading 38-28.
Oehlstrom closed out the scoring early in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard scamper. Irwin’s kick was good.
Caden Swiger caught a 20-yard pass from Johnson for Salem’s final score. The 2-point conversion failed.
Salem piled up 470 yards of total offense – 357 through the air and 113 on the ground. Johnson completed 29 of 41 passes.
Perorazio led the Carrollton defensive effort with 9.5 tackles, seven solo, five assists and one tackle for loss. Oehlstrom was credited with 7.5 tackles, seven solo, one assist and one tackle for loss. Braxten Swearingen was credited with a sack.
Carrollton hosts the league leading and undefeated West Branch Warriors Friday at 7 p.m.
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