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BRUCETON (August 23) — High school football kicked off Friday in Carroll County with a pair of long-standing rivalries. Huntingdon at McKenzie may have been the hot ticket, but West Carroll at …
BRUCETON (August 23) — High school football kicked off Friday in Carroll County with a pair of long-standing rivalries. Huntingdon at McKenzie may have been the hot ticket, but West Carroll at Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central was a thrilling back-and-forth that came down to the final seconds.
The Tigers struck first in the early minutes, and the War Eagles responded late in the first frame. The teams swapped touchdowns early in the second, then West Carroll took the lead just before the half. The War Eagles kept the momentum with a third-quarter touchdown, but Central kept the game in reach going into the fourth. West Carroll and then Central each saw long drives end with interceptions, and the War Eagles capitalized on the latter to go up two scores with under two minutes to play. The Tigers worked the sidelines on a quick drive to score, but West Carroll got the ball back and ran out the clock on a 34-28 win.
Central won the coin toss and elected to defer. That decision paid off as the War Eagles went three-and-out on the opening possession and punted.
Starting at their own 42, the Tigers opened the drive with a 15-yard run by Gavin Guthrie to cross into West Carroll territory. Guthrie repeated for three, then Steven Rich gained another three. Guthrie rushed for nine to move the chains again, then Malik Mathes ran for a short gain. Quarterback Justin Haskins kept for a dozen and another first down. Rich gained five, but Guthrie’s run on the next play was called back on a holding penalty. On second-and-15, Guthrie gained 13. Mathes earned the first down, but was stopped just short of the goal line. Haskins kept the next snap and scored the one-yard touchdown. Mason Binkley kicked the point-after, and Central led 7-0 with just over two minutes to play in the first frame.
The Tigers’ kickoff bounced out of bounds, and West Carroll started the drive at the far 35. Quarterback Jeremiah Bryant completed two throws to Bryce Bolton, the second for 44 yards to set up first-and-goal at the 3. Jarrius Weatherford was stopped for no gain, then Devin Rader gained just a yard. Bryant kept the next snap for a two-yard touchdown. The point-after kick was blocked, and Central kept a one-point lead, 7-6, with just under a minute left in the quarter.
Guthrie made a long return on the ensuing kickoff, and a West Carroll penalty made it great field position for Central, first-and-ten at the 20. Guthrie started the drive with a six-yard gain as the opening frame ended. Rich gained seven to set up first-and-goal at the eight, then punched it in on the next play. Binkley’s kick was good, and the Tigers led 14-6 half a minute into the second frame.
Bryant received the Tiger kickoff and was forced out of bounds after a lengthy return. A late hit penalty made it even better starting field position at the Central 27. Weatherford gained three, then Bryant kept for five. A false start negated Bryant’s gain, but he repeated for four. On fourth-and-three, Bryant shook off several defenders for a nine-yard gain. Weatherford then had a gain called back for holding. Bryant threw incomplete on first-and-long, then found Dylan Cox in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. Bryant dropped back for a two-point attempt but was tackled by Tiger Reece Patterson. With eight minutes to play in the half, Central still lead 14-12.
The Tigers started the ensuing drive at their own 41, reaching midfield on a fourth-down run by Mathes. Three consecutive penalties pushed Central back, and the offense was unable to recover.
After the punt, West Carroll took over at the far 32 with under two minutes to play until intermission. Bryant threw deep to Cody Wildridge, who reeled in the catch and headed for the end zone. He was knocked out of bounds at the 2 by Tiger Caleb Haskins. On first-and-goal, Bryant kept and was stopped inches short. His second try broke the plane, and the War Eagles had their first lead of the contest. Bryant’s two-point pass was deflected by Tiger Brayden Frye, and the West Carroll advantage was 18-14 with 15 seconds to play.
Central managed just one play before time expired.
The Tigers received the second-half kick and managed two first downs before a fumble was recovered by War Eagle Jacob Blankenship.
The War Eagles faced a long field, starting at the 27, but Bryant threw to Blankenship for five, then Weatherford ran for four. On third-and-one, Bryant kept for four to move the chains. He then threw to Jack Barrow for 13 across midfield. Bryant went back to the air, hitting an open Bolton for a 47-yard touchdown. Rader ran for the two-point conversion, and West Carroll led 26-14 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Central began the ensuing drive near midfield. Haskins ran for 17 and a first down, then again for a short gain. Guthrie moved the chains to the 23, then Haskins kept for three yards. On the next snap, Guthrie took the handoff and went 19 yards to paydirt. Haskins kept for two points, and the War Eagle lead was cut to 26-22 with three minutes left in the third.
Central’s onside kick attempt bounced out of bounds, and West Carroll started at the far 38. Weatherford ran for a short gain, then a false start set the War Eagles back. Bryant threw to Rader and then Barrow to cross into Tiger territory and move the chains. Rader ran for four as the quarter ended. To start the final frame, Bryant kept and was dropped for a loss. Facing third-and-long, Bryant scrambled and made an off-balance throw to Barrow, who made the catch in double coverage. On first-and-ten at the Tiger 30, Bryant tossed to C.J. Ray for three yards. He then hit Barrow again for seven and another first down. A repeat of the same play yielded a 20-yard touchdown, but a holding penalty negated the score. Bryant threw incomplete on first-and-long, then kept for 21 to set up first-and-goal at the 9. Bryant’s next pass was picked off by Rich to give the Tigers the ball at their own 7.
Either Haskins or Guthrie ran on ten straight plays, earning four first downs along the way. A holding penalty made it first-and-20 at the West Carroll 36, and Haskins’ first pass of the drive was intercepted by Bryant, who returned it across midfield to the Tiger 46.
Bryant wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover, taking the first snap 46 yards to the house. Weatherford punched it in for two points, and the War Eagles led 34-22 with 1:41 remaining in the contest.
Central began the ensuing drive at midfield. Haskins kept for a gain of nine, then threw incomplete. He kept again to move the chains, then threw to Frye, who hopped out of bounds after a nine-yard gain. On second-and-one at the 20, Haskins ran to the outside for a first-and-goal and out of bounds to stop the clock at 43.6 seconds. He kept again, running out of bounds at the 7. Haskins then threw to Frye for a touchdown. The two-point pass attempt fell incomplete, and West Carroll led 34-28 with 36.6 seconds on the clock.
The Tigers attempted an onside kick, but War Eagle Seth Edwards snagged it. Bryant took a knee twice to run out the clock and seal the win for West Carroll.
The War Eagles (1-0) will host McKenzie (0-1) Friday; the Tigers (0-1) will travel to Greenfield (1-0). Kickoff for both games is 7 p.m.