Saturday, November 24, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bison lose in waning moments to Hornets

Leader sportswriter

Carlisle’s season came to an end against the fleet legs of Mineral Springs junior quarterback Kendrick Langston, who bolted for a 49-yard touchdown run with 1:09 remaining to lift the Hornets to a 22-21 victory in the quarterfinal round of the Class 2A state playoffs at Fred C. Hardke Field on Friday.

Mineral Springs (8-3) was without the services of senior all-conference running back Rashad Williams, who was suspended from the game after being ejected from the round-two victory over Poyen a week prior. That put extra work on the shoulders of Langston, who came through with 28 carries for 193 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Langston’s rushing accounted for all but 54 of the Hornets’ total yards.

“The kids stepped up. I can’t say enough about the kids,” Mineral Springs coach Nick Evans said. “Everything they did – great job fighting until the very end. The never-give-up attitude the kids have taken on this year is really what kept us going.”

The Bison (10-2) took the momentum late in the fourth quarter, going on a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chris Hart to junior wide receiver Justice Bryant to take a 21-16 lead with 1:59 left on the clock. Carlisle went for a two-point conversion, but junior running back Deron Ricks was stopped just short of the goal line.

That gave the Hornets one final chance against a Bison defense that had been stingy against Langston and company most of the second half, but Langston broke left after getting through the line on his third-straight rush of the possession to advance Mineral Springs into next week’s semifinal round where it will travel to Bearden, a 35-7 winner over Magnet Cove on Friday.

“He came over to me on the sideline,” Evans said of Langston. “He said, ‘coach, if we get the ball back, just give it to me.’ And so, he had that look in his eye – he’s had it all year long, and right there is just another example of what kind of kid he is.”

The Bison defense was dominant early, pushing Mineral Springs back five yards in three plays on its opening possession.

Things got worse for the Hornets on their punt attempt when punter Avante Evins bobbled the snap and barely got a handle on the ball before Carlisle senior John Reynolds dragged him down at the Mineral Springs’ 19-yard line.

The Bison went to work fast, with short gains by Ricks and Bryant before Ricks busted through with a 5-yard touchdown run at the 7:48 mark of the first quarter. Ricks also added the point-after kick to give Carlisle a 7-0 lead.

“It was a great ballgame,” Bison coach Scott Waymire said. “You have to give Mineral Springs credit. I thought they did a tremendous job. They made big plays when they had to. They were fortunate and got a couple of turnovers off of us. I’m proud of our guys and what they’ve accomplished this week. They kept fighting, and we just ran out of stuff.”

The Bison threatened to come back one more time in the final minute. Carlisle took over at its own 25 with just 57 seconds left on the clock and two timeouts, but Hart found junior receiver Austin Reed for a 28-yard pass play on first down. Reed got out of bounds to stop the clock, as did Hart on the following play when he scrambled out of the pocket for a 10-yard gain.

Hart then completed to Reed again, this time for a 15-yard gain to move the ball all the way down to the Hornet 27-yard line before luck ran out on the Bison. Hart looked for Reed again on the next play in the middle of the end zone, but Evins came down with the interception in the end zone, his second of the night against Hart.

“They had a real good run,” Waymire said of Hart and the senior players. “Those guys have won 33 games in three years, been to the quarterfinals all three times and the state championship game. I’m very proud of them, small senior class, and a fun group of guys to coach. It’s never good to lose, but looking back, those guys had a heck of a three-year career for us.”

Bryant scored Carlisle’s second touchdown with 4:38 remaining in the first half on a 30-yard run down the left side, and a two-point conversion pass from Hart to Reed made the score 16-15 Hornets at the half.

Mineral Springs brought a rabid fan base with it to Hardke Field, and the spirit of the players on the sideline during every play made the importance of the game evident.

“We kind of walk around with a chip on our shoulder,” Evans said. “We feel like everybody is kind of against us, I mean, maybe we deserve some of it or whatever, but football is so important to all these kids.”

Bryant rushed 16 times for 115 yards and a touchdown to lead Carlisle. Ricks had 18 rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Hart was 5 for 11 passing for 81 yards and a touchdown along with two interceptions. The Bison finished with 184 total yards.