Saturday, October 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Second-half rally lifts Bison to win

Leader sportswriter

A big second half lifted Carlisle to a 40-12 blowout victory at archrival Hazen on Friday – a win that puts the Bison in good position to win the 2A-6 Conference title outright for the first time since 2011.

The Bison (7-0, 4-0) turned the ball over on their first offensive play of the game and the Hornets (5-2, 3-1) covered it at the Carlisle 23-yard line. Hazen, however, was stuffed on four-straight plays to give the ball back to Carlisle, and the Bison made the home team pay.

Carlisle answered with a punishing 19-play drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Bo Weddle on fourth down with 10:24 to play in the second quarter. Fellow senior back Justice Bryant ran in the two-point conversion to give the visiting Bison an 8-0 lead.

Hazen’s offense turned the ball over on downs for the second-straight possession, and Carlisle scored again on a 1-yard run on third and goal by Bryant that put the Bison up 14-0.

The PAT try was no good, and senior quarterback/safety Austin Reed went down during the play with a knee injury, and was helped to the locker room with 3:32 to play in the half.

Hazen threatened to score on the next possession, but the Bison defense forced another Hornet turnover, this time on a fumble by leading rusher Trenton Mosby.

Carlisle covered the fumble at its own 8-yard line, but was forced to punt with a little more than a minute to play in the half. Reed, who is also the Bison deep snapper on punts, was missed on the play as the snap lacked the velocity necessary to allow a timely punt.

Hazen blocked the punt as a result, and ended up with the ball at the Bison 6-yard line. Three-plays later, Lucas Tenison punched in a 2-yard touchdown run as time expired to make the score 14-6 Carlisle at the break.

The momentum appeared to be favoring Hazen entering the second half, but Weddle returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for another Carlisle touchdown, and Reed played quarterback throughout the second half despite the nagging knee injury.

“We come out there and we think we lost our quarterback,” said Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree, “and in the locker room, the first thing (Reed) says when he looks at me is ‘coach, I’m playing the second half.’

“So, emotionally, giving up that big punt block and the score, which takes all the momentum away from us – he just gave it all back to us, because we knew we could count on him. It was huge for us just have him to be able to come out and snap the ball for us, and do the little things.”

Hazen cut the scoring margin down to 20-12 with 4:33 to play in the third quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gage Johnson to Brenon Williams, but it would be final time the Hornets found the end zone.

DeRon Ricks, the other senior standout Bison running back, had a monster second half and scored the first of his two second-half touchdowns on a 10-yard run with 7:38 to play in the fourth quarter that gave Carlisle a 26-12 lead.

Carlisle scored on its next two possessions to set the final score.

Ricks scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run with 5:57 to play that put Hazen in a 34-12 hole, and with 3:33 to play, Bryant scored on a 67-yard run to make it 40-12.

“They played their tails off,” Barbaree said. “It was unbelievable how our defense played. DeRon Ricks and our offensive line controlled the third and fourth quarter, getting off the ball, and they just kept pushing and kept fighting.”

Carlisle’s offense outgained Hazen’s 351 to 238. Ricks led the Bison rushing attack with 17 carries for 157 yards and two scores. Weddle had just two carries in the second half, but finished with 16 carries for 40 yards and one touchdown, while Bryant totaled 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns on seven carries.

The Bison will have a much easier matchup in week eight as they host winless Marvell (0-7, 0-4). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.