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ATWOOD (August 17) — The West Carroll High School War Eagles opened the football season at home Friday with a back-and-forth thriller for a narrow, 17-16 win against the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central Tigers.
The War Eagle defense put the first points on the board with a safety on Central’s first possession, then the offense added to the lead late in the opening frame. The Tigers clawed back with scores in the second and third quarters to take the lead before West Carroll regained the advantage on a lengthy fourth-quarter drive. The Tigers had a chance late after a safety forced by the Central defense pulled them within a point, but the War Eagle defense held strong in the clutch. West Carroll took over on downs in the final minute to close out the victory.
The War Eagles won the toss and received the opening kick, but went three-and-out. Devin Nash punted into the end zone for a touchback.
Central fumbled on second down, recovering the ball in the end zone. War Eagle Kyler White made the tackle behind the goal line for a safety. With 8:57 left in the first frame, West Carroll led 2-0.
The Tigers kicked off from their own 20. The ball sailed out of bounds to give the War Eagles good field position at the Central 45. Jarrius Weatherford ran for a first down and quarterback Trace Fuller threw to Blaine Howell for another, but a fumble on the next play cost West Carroll yards and doomed the drive. Three plays later, the Tigers took over on downs at the 20.
Tiger quarterback Dalton Williams was sacked on first down by War Eagle Garrett Brooks, leading to a three-and-out.
The War Eagles started with another short field, this time taking advantage. Fuller threw to Shae Crocker for eight, then Weatherford ran six to move the chains. Fuller kept for just a yard, then Weatherford scrambled around the backfield before emerging unscathed and heading 15 yards to paydirt. Nash’s PAT kick was good to extend the West Carroll lead to 9-0 with just 25 seconds left in the first frame.
Central ran two plays for a first down to end the quarter, then quickly faced fourth-and-four in the second. Williams kept the next snap for just enough to move the chains and extend the drive. He followed with a throw to Zane Mebane for five yards, then found him again at the goal line for a 23-yard touchdown. The two-point attempt failed, and the War Eagle lead was 9-6 with 9:09 remaining in the first half.
Central attempted an onside kick, but Brooks recovered for West Carroll at the 42. Weatherford moved the chains once, and, two plays later, Fuller threw to Jack Barrow to earn another fresh set of downs inside the Tiger 15. The Central defense shut down the drive there, taking over on downs.
The Tigers ran seven plays, including a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak by Williams, before punting from the 26.
Taking over at the West Carroll 42, War Eagle P.J. Odom ran for a first down. Fuller spiked the ball to stop the clock with 7.3 seconds left, then threw incomplete with less than a second on the clock. He aired it out for the last play, but it was picked off by Mebane and the half ended with West Carroll leading 9-6.
Central received the second-half kickoff and started at the Tiger 37. Conner Gaia took over at quarterback and made good on his first snap, keeping it for a 63-yard touchdown. Gaia tossed to Cameron Hudson for the two-point conversion, and the Tigers took a 14-9 lead just 23 seconds into the third quarter.
A West Carroll penalty from the scoring play allowed Central to kick from the 50 for a touchback. After a delay of game penalty before the first play, the War Eagles went three-and-out. Devon Rader’s punt was downed at the 50. Gaia threw incomplete, then was stopped for a loss by Brooks. On third-and-long, he kept again for 13 yards and a first down. From there, back-to-back penalties stifled the Tiger drive, culminating in an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Fuller’s pass on second down was again intercepted by Mebane, who made a long return. Another flag cost the Tigers a large chunk of Mebane’s return, and two more during the drive would eventually lead to a turnover on downs.
Starting at their own 29, the War Eagles got four yards on an Odom run before the third ended. Odom started the final frame with a short loss, then Fuller kept for a first down. Next, Fuller threw a screen pass to Weatherford, dropped and nearly picked up by the Tigers before bouncing out of bounds. A face mask penalty on the next play gave West Carroll a new set of downs in Central territory. Fuller threw incomplete, then Weatherford ran three times for a first down. Two plays later, Fuller kept for a long run down to the ten. He ran it in on first-and-goal, but a penalty negated the score. Weatherford made a short gain, then Fuller threw incomplete. On third-and-goal from the 14, Fuller made it to the 3. On fourth down, he leapt over the pile for the touchdown. Weatherford took it in for two points, and the War Eagles took a 17-14 lead with five and a half minutes to play in the contest.
A short West Carroll kick gave Central the ball at midfield. A pass interference call moved the ball 15 yards, then Gaia completed to Mebane for another ten. On first-and-ten at the 25, Brooks broke into the backfield and sacked Gaia for a loss of ten. The quarterback then threw incomplete and kept for five to bring up fourth-and-long. His pass was picked off by a leaping Fuller near the goal line. Fuller came down in the end zone with two Tigers wrapping him up. He narrowly avoided a safety, stretching just enough get the ball beyond the goal line.
Taking over at the 2, West Carroll earned some breathing room by inciting a Central offside penalty. Fuller lost four on first down, and Odom gained just a yard on second. A delay of game put the War Eagles dangerously back at the 2, and a high snap was recovered by Fuller in the end zone, but he was swarmed by Tiger defenders for a safety. With 1:25 on the clock, Central cut the deficit to 17-16 and forced a West Carroll kickoff from the 20.
Starting at the War Eagle 36, Gaia was stopped for a loss by Zach Perry, then Crocker broke up two consecutive pass attempts. On fourth-and-long with just under a minute remaining, Armoni Bonds made the stop on Gaia to give West Carroll the ball on downs.
Fuller took a knee, and the War Eagles celebrated a win to start the season.
West Carroll travels to McKenzie Friday to face the Rebels. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. The Tigers travel to Greenfield with a 7 p.m. kickoff.