Five first-half Franklin Parish turnovers and a 250-yard performance from star Carroll running back Amareya Greeley paved the way to a 35-12 Bulldog victory Thursday night.
The night started much better than it ended for the Patriots. After a promising Carroll drive culminated in a goal line stand by the Franklin Parish defense, the Bulldogs came up empty-handed after a missed 29-yard field goal. Then the first offensive play of the game for the Patriots saw quarterback Bryce Curtis connect with Javion White on an 81-yard touchdown strike to give Franklin Parish a 6-0 lead on the road.
The Bulldogs had an immediate answer, though, thanks to a crucial third-down pickup near midfield. On a third-and-seven from Franklin Parish’s 49-yard line, the Bulldogs tossed a little swing pass to Greeley, and he broke several tackles before picking up the first down. Greeley followed that play up with a 13-yard run to get Carroll near the red zone. Carroll’s talented back polished off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, but the two-point conversion was no good.
But that’s when everything started to go downhill for the Patriots offensively. The first turnover of the night proved to be costly. Franklin Parish running back Tyrell Richardson was rocked by Carroll’s Norris Kelley FS/CB on a blitz to force the fumble.
"Every Wednesday we do a turnover circuit at practice," Washington said. "The kids go through it strippping balls, working on interceptions and scoop and scores. All that kind of stuff. We spend a lot of time working on turnovers, and we'll continue to do it."
The Bulldogs jumped on it and Greeley stayed hot on the next possession. He took a direct snap and carried multiple would-be tacklers for the Patriots on a 30-yard run. Greeley finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown to give Carroll its first lead of the night. Greeley had 129 yards and two rushing scores on 12 carries in the first quarter alone. Carroll quarterback Zay Ford scored the two-point conversion on a quarterback keeper to give the C-Dogs a 14-6 lead.
The Bulldogs forced another Patriot fumble early into the second quarter, as Richardson was stripped in Carroll territory. Much to the dismay of the Bulldogs coaching staff, Carroll’s sixth penalty of the ballgame derailed any opportunity the Bulldogs had of cashing in on that one.
The Patriots entered the red zone on their next possession, but Franklin Parish turned the ball over on their third consecutive drive due to a fumble on a high snap. That third turnover was followed by a 27-yard touchdown strike from Ford to Nate Roberts.
"Nate has a lot of potential," Washington said. "He's just a sophomore, so he's still working on playing more consistent. Most people are lining up to try and stop Demardrick (Blunt), so it's giving these younger guys more opportunities."
Greeley had 181 rushing yards at the half, as the Bulldogs took a 20-6 lead into the locker room.
Franklin Parish couldn’t have a better start to the first half. After an 81-yard kickoff return by Marshawn Whitley, Curtis delivered a 19-yard strike to White for the score. The two-point conversion failed to follow, so Franklin Parish trailed 20-12 early into the third quarter.
Carroll’s passing attack went to work on the first possession of the second half. Facing a third-and-eight, Ford connected with Blunt for a pivotal third-down conversion that saw the Bulldogs reach the red zone. That set up what would become an even more crucial conversion, as the Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-14 and took to the air again. This time Ford tossed a 14-yard touchdown to Roberts before Greeley followed with a two-point conversion to put Carroll up 28-12.
"Zay did a great job last night," Washington said. "He does a good job of extending plays and trying to get the ball down field to his receivers. Sometimes that gets us in trouble because we'd like him to tuck it and run it, but I'd like to applaud him for still trying to be a good playmaker for us and get the ball down the field."
Greeley capped his night with a 12-yard score in the fourth quarter. He led the Bulldogs with 250 yards and three scores on 29 carries in the ballgame. Curtis completed 13-of-36 for 181 yards with two scores and three interceptions.
Franklin Parish had seven turnovers in the loss.
The (2-2) Bulldogs will face Bastrop next Friday, while a winless Franklin Parish squad returns to action against Union.
"The kids at Bastrop don't care about the record. They're going to always play extremely hard," Washington said. "We know it'll be a physical game. They'll test us on both sides of the ball."