By Carol McIntire
BELOIT – The battle of the Warriors – Carrollton Warriors and the West Branch Warriors – was truly a battle Friday night.
The two teams battled back and forth on the West Branch battlefield with West Branch gaining the early momentum and building a 14-point lead before Carrollton pushed back against their opponents and scored a touchdown just before halftime.
The Warriors from Carrollton built on that momentum in the second half. They came out of the locker room, marched down the field and tied the game just over midway through the third period.
The two teams waged battles back and forth throughout the fourth period. Neither could find the end zone, leaving the two teams tied at 14-14 at the end of regulation.
Carrollton had the first opportunity to score points in overtime from the 20-yard line, but a fumble on a first down run gave West Branch an opportunity to win the game with either a field goal or touchdown.
On first down, DeShields threw an incomplete pass to the end zone. On second down, DeShields was tackled for a 3-yard loss. On third down, DeShields threw another incomplete pass to the end zone. Facing a fourth-and-23, DeSheilds dropped back and threw a strike to Kyle Linhart for a touchdown and the victory.
“I am very proud of the way our team played,” said Carrollton Coach Phil Mauro. “They played hard the entire game.”
West Branch scored as time ran out in the first quarter on a 4-yard run by DeShields. Jared Butler added the extra point. Midway through the second period, DeShields connected with Linhart on a 19-yard scoring strike. Butler added the extra point.
Late in the second quarter, sophomore Bryce Carte blocked a West Branch punt to set the Warriors up deep in West Branch territory. Three plays later senior quarterback Parker Crim hit paydirt from 11 yards out. Rigo Viveros added the extra point with 1:10 on the clock before halftime and sent his Warriors into the locker room with momentum.
Coach Mauro moved to a two-back set offensivley and the Warrior took the second half kickoff and marched 71 yards to the end zone. Crim capped the drive off with a 5-yard touchdown run. Viveros added the extra point to tie the score at 14-14.
Trevor Boggess picked off a DeSheilds pass in the end zone to kill a West Branch drive with 3:41 left in the game. Carrollton took over on their own 20-yard line. A 3-yard gain by Carte, and 6-yard pickup by Crim set the Warriors up with a fourth-and-one from their own 29. After a time out, Mauro elected to punt with 2:36 left in the game, having faith his defense could keep West Branch out of the endzone. As the Carrollton punter reached down to pick up the snap, his knee touched the ground and an official called the play dead on the 15-yard line. After an officials’ time out to discuss the play, the call stood and West Branch was looking straight into the Carrollton end zone. Three plays netted only six yards for West Branch. Facing a fourth-and-six with 22 ticks left on the clock, Coach DJ Dota took a time out. West Branch opted to attempt a field goal, which went wide of the upright and forced overtime.
Mauro had praise for his defensive unit, which forced turnovers at opportune times.
“That blocked punt that turned our first touchdown was big for us,” said Mauro. “Ryan Walker was out with mono and Bryce stepped in for him and really had a big game for us. He ran hard and played tough on defense.”
Carte was credited with three and a half tackles, including two solo tackles, three assists and 1.5 tackles for loss. Offensively, he carried the ball eight times for 31 yards.
Offensively, Mauro praised the efforts of his offensive line in the second half and the play of Crim.
“Our offense did a much better job up front in the second half, “he said. Crim had a gutsy performance and really stepped up for us. I am proud of the entire team for the effort they gave.”
Crim connected on two of four pass attempts for 7 yards and led Carrollton in rushing with 62 yards on 12 carries. Senior running back Chase Flanagan picked dup 39 yards on 17 carries.
Braden Wells caught both of Crim’s passes.
Defensively, Mohn was credited with seven tackles, six of which were solo tackles, and two assists.
Sophomore linebacker Connor Clark had 5.5 tackles, five of which were solo tackles, and one assist. Calob Dalton and Boggess each had five tackles.
The Warriors had two quarterback sacks for -22 yards.
For West Branch, DeShields connected on 14 of 29 passes for 182 yards. Josh Rinehart picked up 55 yards on nine carries to lead the West Branch rushing attack.
West Branch held the advantage in total yards, 282 – 148, time of possession, 27:07 to 20:53 and first downs, 20-10.
The Warriors head to Louisville Friday to take on the Leopards in another Northeastern Buckeye Conference game.
Coach Mauro said the Warriors have another tough game in front of them.
“Louisville has a good program. They have been a solid team for several years and we have another tough test in front of us.”