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Warriors rally for 37-30 double OT win
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By Carol McIntire
If Friday’s season opener against the Manchester Panthers is any indication of what the 2023 season holds for the Carrollton Warriors, it’s going to be barn burner!
The Warriors erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, tied the game at the end of regulation, won a 37-30 thriller in double overtime and gave Coach Jim Tsilimos his 200th career win.
The win, on the Warriors’ home turf, was anything but easy.
“We were just so sloppy offensively in the beginning,” Tsilimos said after being presented the game ball in recognition of this 200th win. “Come the middle of the third quarter we kind of found our stride and things started happening.”
Things did happen for the Warriors, late in the third period while trailing 30-14.
Knowing they needed two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to tie the game, Tsilimos’ re-energized defensive squad broke up a fourth-down pass and handed the ball over to the offense on the Carrollton 41-yard line. Junior quarterback Jacob Whitmore engineered a 59-yard drive and capped it off with a one-yard score and added the two-point conversion. Whitmore found the end zone again, this time from a half-yard out, less than five minutes later, and tied the game with a dive across the goal line on the two-point conversion.
Manchester had 5:47 left on the fourth quarter clock and had every intention of marching down the field to win the game in regulation. And they almost did. Panther senior Cody Hosteler converted a fourth-and-one play to move the ball to the Carrollton 22-yard line. Facing a third and 15 with 1:02 on the clock, the hosts silenced the Carrollton sideline with what appeared to be the winning touchdown. A holding penalty brought the ball back to the 35. Owen Spilker and Josh Carman dragged Yadin Sharp down on the 29-yard line to force a fourth down. The Panther offense lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game but went wide of the left upright.
Manchester took the first shot at the end zone in the first overtime period. In high school overtime periods, each team gets a chance to score from the 20-yard line.
After a false start penalty moved the ball back to the 25 -yard line, Gunnar Burgett snagged Manchester quarterback Sharp’s pass out of the air for an interception to halt the drive.
Carrollton’s first attempt in overtime ended with a 29-yard field goal attempted that floated left of the upright.
Carrollton got the first crack at the goal line in the second overtime. The drive consisted of two passes – both to Burgett. The second was an 18-yarder over the middle the 6-foot 2-inch senior caught just inside the goal line for the touchdown. Rosenberger’s kick was good for a 37-30 Carrollton lead.
Manchester had one more shot.
With sophomore Dominic Allen under center, the Panthers attempted two passes under heavy pressure from the Carrollton defense. Allen was forced to pull the ball down and run in both cases. Allen’s pass on a fourth and six play fell incomplete to give Carrollton the win.
“They hung in there,” Tsilimos said. “I was proud of them. I was proud of our conditioning. You notice, once you get back in the game, the conditioning always improves.”
The hosts dug a hole for themselves early in the contest.
Manchester senior Caleb Youngman silenced the crowd when he picked up a fumble on a punt during Carrollton’s first possession and scampered 45 yards the end zone.
Jon Teeters added the extra point with 8:44 left on the first quarter clock to give Manchester a 7-0 lead.
Carrollton answered later in the first period when the senior Nick Lawrence recovered a Panther fumble on the Carrollton 27-yard line. Eight plays, later Whitmore lunged across the goal line from a yard out. Quentin Rosenberger’s kick tied the game with 2:53 left in the first quarter.
On the next possession, Manchester put together a 12-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown run by Cody Hostler. Teeters’ kick went wide left and, with less than two minutes off the second quarter clock, Manchester led 13-7.
Teeters kicked a 28-yard field goal on the next possession for a 16-7 lead at intermission.
The hosts took the second half kickoff, ran four plays and punted. Six plays later, Sharp found Cameron Schoenly open for a 35-yard scoring play that stretched the lead to 23-7.
Senior Ryan Kiko lit a fire in the Warriors when he fielded the ensuing kickoff and retuned it 86 yards for a touchdown. Rosenberger added the extra point.
Suddenly, there was life on the Warrior sideline.
“We kind of caught our stride and things started happening in the third quarter,” said Tsilimos. “The kids hung in there and we just took one play at a time.”
Manchester would add another score, a 35-yard pass from Sharp to Youngman, before the Warriors mounted the comeback.
Whitmore was the work horse for Carrollton. He completed six of 10 passes for 102 yards and rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries. Kiko picked up 28 yards on two carries. Burgett caught two passes for 51 yards.
Levi Crider, Nick Lawrence and Kiko were all credited with a fumble recovery and Burgett and Josh Carman had interceptions.
Crider, a 5-10 216-lb. senior, led the defense with 11 tackles, four solo and seven assists.
Manchester dominated the ground game with 228 yards on 40 carries and added 160 through the air on 10 pass completions for 388 total yards. Hostler led Manchester’s ground attack with 158 yards on 22 carries.
Carrollton picked up 92 rushing yards on 34 carries and 105 through the air for 197 total yards.
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