From 2-8 to playing for the district championship.
Carroll continued its resurgence with a workmanlike 21-13 Senior Night victory over Union Parish.
Friday night’s win sets up a showdown for the District 2-3A championship between the Bulldogs (6-2, 3-0) and two-time defending conference champion Sterlington (8-0, 3-0) on Thursday night at Panther Field.
“Everybody doubted us after last year,” said Carroll tight end/linebacker Derrick Conner. “We came back and surprised them this year.”
Carroll’s turnaround is no accident. Instead of hanging their heads and pouting over the dreadful 2018 season, they decided to do something about it. And they didn’t waste any time.
“We took Monday off after the Madison game, and the kids hit the weight room that Tuesday,” Carroll coach Alex Washington said. “Even over the Christmas break, the kids were in here working the weights Tuesday and Thursday. That’s a tremendous effort for the kids to come in here on their off time and still lift weights. They showed us they wanted to get better, and we have been holding them to it."
There is clearly something different about the Bulldogs this season, and it’s not just their record.
“Sometimes over the cours of a game, you are going to face a little adversity,” Washington said. “Tonight, we fought through it, and it showed. The Carroll of old would have hit a little adversity and shut it down.”
With Carroll down 7-6, Montrelle Jones’ 65-yard touchdown dash on the first play of the second half was negated by a holding call.
A delay of game penalty brought up first-and-18 from the 27.
If Carroll was going to revert back to its old ways, this was the opportunity. Instead, the Bulldogs kept their composure.
“It is kind of frustrating to have a touchdown called back like that,” Washington said, “but the kids kept at it, and didn’t get discouraged.”
Jones’ 11-yard run and a short pass to Armiyel “T” Bell set up a manageable third-and-five. Cedric Woods then made a diving catch for 16 yards and a first down at the Union 44.
Jones’ 36-yard run to the right side — on the same play that was called back for a touchdown — was good for a first-and-goal at the 8.
After two running plays netted two yards, the Bulldogs took a timeout. Conner’s eyes lit up when he heard the call.
“I told my quarterback to just throw the ball my way, and even if he made a bad pass and I had to make a diving catch, I was going to make him look good,” Conner said.
Conner never had to neither dive nor jump. Rolling to his right, Hollins hit Conner between the numbers for the go-ahead touchdown. The same play worked again on the 2-point conversion, putting the Bulldogs up 14-7 with 8:14 to play in the third period.
Union (5-4, 1-2) ran only six plays in the third quarter without making a first down.
Donald Nabors’ third down interception on Union’s next series gave Carroll the ball at the plus-36, but the Bulldogs missed a 21-yard field goal.
Moments later, Jy Brown stopped a third-and-nine running play to force Union into a three-and-out.
Taking over at the minus-37 after the punt, the Bulldogs soon faced third-and-17. Hollins then found Woods, who ran through a tackle and picked up 10 additional yards for an 18-yard pickup and a first down at the 48.
From there, Jones went sideline to sideline for a 17-yard pickup to the Union 35.
Kelvin Hamilton, Isaiah Taylor, Char’Tavion Arrington, Darrell Gilbert and Malik Long took over from there.
Bolstered by a 15-yard run from Pakoyrie Goins, the Bulldogs covered the final 35 yards on five straight running plays, with Jones scoring from four yards out. Jackie Wallace’s extra point upped Carroll’s lead to 21-7 with 11:55 remaining.
Union then drove from its own 35 to the Carroll 21 before Jacoby Brown picked off a third down pass in the end zone with just under eight minutes to play.
Carroll went three and out on its next series before the Farmers drove 59 yards on 10 plays. Trent Ginn followed Dalton Hogue into the end zone from a yard out to bring the Farmers within 21-13, but with only 2:29 remaining, time was Carroll’s ally.
Markee Hatfield fielded the ensuing onside kick on the hop, and Carroll set up at its own 47.
Unable to run out the clock, the Bulldogs punted the ball away.
Ginn’s 11-yard punt return enabled the Farmers to start from their own 44 with just 1:34 on the clock.
Dylan Harris’ 15-yard reception pushed the Farmers into Carroll territory at the 41. On the next snap, ends Wallace and Ryan Deburr jarred the ball loose in the backfield on a combined sack. Goins made the recovery to seal the victory.
Union opened the scoring after starting its second possession from the plus-37 on a short punt.
Ginn kept for 36 yards to the 1, and Trey Holly walked it in from there. Cade Smith’s extra point gave the visitors a 7-0 lead less then five minutes in.
Carroll closed within 7-6 early in the second quarter on an eight-yard touchdown run by Jones. Hollins’ 32-yard run and 12-yard pass to Conner highlighted a five-play, 56-yard drive as the Bulldogs overcame a holding call.
Carroll seniors Cedric Woods, LaDarrius McFee, LaDarrius Goldsberry, LaJarius Caldwell, Jacoby Brown, Armiyel “T” Bell, Montrelle Jones, Donald Nabors, Roderick Douglas, Jackie Wallace, Pakoyrie Goins, Ryan Deburr, Demiya Coleman, Darrell Gilbert, Andre Hill, Char’Tavion Arrington, Jayon Bingham, Isaiah Taylor, Malik Long, Kelvin Hamilton, Brandon Sheridon, Devin Smith and Roderick Douglas were recognized prior to the game.
Notes: Hollins completed his final seven passes to finish the evening 9-of-12 for 130 yards. Woods was Hollins’ primary target with five receptions for 121 yards. … Jones accounted for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries despite having two TD runs called back.
By the Numbers
UP ……………………….…… CHS
12 …….. First downs ………. 12
42-202 .. Rushes-yards ……. 34-182
58 …….. Passing yards ……. 130
16-7-2 .. Passes (A-C-I) ……. 12-9-0
2-30 ….. Punts-avg. ………… 4-32.5
2-1 …… Fumbles-lost ……… 4-0
5-40 ….. Penalties-yards …… 11-90
Union ……. 7 0 0 6—13
Carroll …… 0 6 8 7—21
U—Trey Holly 1-run (Cade Smith kick), 7:42
C—Montrelle Jones 8-run (kick failed), 11:12
C—Derrick Conner 6-pass from Antonio Hollins, 8:14
C—Jones 4-run (Jackie Wallace), 11:55
U—Trent Ginn 1-run (kick failed), 2:29
RUSHING—Union: Ginn 17-96-1, Holly 18-76-1. Carroll: Jones 22-119-2, Hollins 11-62.
PASSING (A-C-I-Yds-TD)—Union: Ginn 16-7-2-58-0. Carroll: Hollins 12-9-0-130-1.
RECEIVING—Union: Dylan Harris 4-39, Hollis 2-9, Kieran Perry 1-10. Carroll: Woods 5-121, Conner 2-18-1.