RIVERSIDE — The Carroll Patriots turned in one of the all-time great defensive performances in a 27-12 win over Riverside rival Stebbins Aug. 24.
After surrendering 124 total yards in the first half, Carroll unofficially gave up just 15 in the second half and shut out what appeared to be a potent Stebbins offense.
The defense gave up just one touchdown all night as the other Stebbins score came via punt return. Carroll used a bevy of well-timed blitzes and made sure-handed tackles to avoid getting beat by big offensive plays. Unofficially the Indians netted zero positive rushing yards.
“Our run defense, we knew going in was going to be good,” senior defensive back Jacob Heil said, adding that the concern was Stebbins’ passing.
“We came out of the locker room with some adjustments we made,” Heil said.
Those adjustments held Stebbins to just five passing yards and a late interception. The offense also helped the defense by chewing up a ton of yards and time in the second half.
Unofficially senior running back Evan Howard ran 31 times for 174 yards and one touchdown (mostly in the second half), while Frederick Butts added eight second-half carries for 75 yards and two scores.
“Evan has been a part of this program for four years, three years on Friday nights,” Coach Ben Rulli said. “That was never more evident than tonight.”
Howard’s one-yard touchdown plunge on Carroll’s initial second-half possession gave the Patriots a 14-12 lead, a lead they would never give up. Carroll chewed up seven minutes and gave Howard the ball 10 times on the 13-play drive.
“When you can move the ball on offense its great,” Rulli said.
From there, the Patriots leaned on the defense to win its second-straight season opener over Stebbins.
The Indians used a big play to take a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter when Brady Wilson returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown with 2:40 left. The extra point was blocked by Howard.
Carroll followed that big play with one of its own to take a 7-6 as time expired in the first.
On a third-and-two, QB Trent Fox found Heil — who beat the defender by a couple steps — on a perfect pass into the end zone. Kade Greer nailed the extra point.
Stebbins took the lead back midway through the second, using a 40-yard pass from Ryan Minor to RaShawn Benners and then a 10-yard pass from Minor to Wilson, who was uncovered in the end zone. The two-point pass attempt was broken up by Carroll’s Sam Severt.
Carroll went up 20-12 with 9:06 left in the game, moving 73 yards on 12 plays and scoring on a three-yard jaunt by Butts.
The Patriots host Beavercreek next week.
Score by quarters
S 6 6 0 0 – 12
C 7 0 7 6 7 – 27
S – Wilson 75 punt return (kick failed)
C – Heil 26 pass from Fox (Greer kick)
S – Wilson 10 pass from Minor (pass failed)
C – Howard 1 run (Greer kick)
C – Butts 3 run (Kick failed)
C – Butts 1 run (Greer kick)