DOBSON — The Golden Eagles’ short-yardage defense came up with several key stops Friday night, but a few big plays were all Carver needed to pull out a 24-3 conference win.
Surry Central stopped the Yellow Jackets inside the red zone several times, as well as preventing four two-point tries, but Carver had two scoring plays of more than 80 yards that Central couldn’t match.
The Eagles reached Carver territory four times in the second quarter and twice more in the second half, but only came away with three points. Even worse, the team cracked the 10-yard line three times without getting a touchdown.
Despite the struggles, the home team outgained Carver from scrimmage for more than three quarters and still had a chance to cut it to a one-score game early in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for Central, Carver’s biggest plays didn’t come from hiking the ball. The Yellow Jackets forced two interceptions, a fumble and a turnover on downs.
The fumble was turned into an 88-yard return for a touchdown, then a fake punt resulted in an 84-yard TD to break open a close game in the second quarter.
On Carver’s second possession of the game, the visitors drove all the way to the 4-yard line. Then a pass in the end zone was broken up, followed by the running back being tackled at the 2 on fourth-and-goal.
Taking a snap in his own end zone, however, Martin Palacios threw an interception that was returned right back to that 2-yard line where Carver had been stopped before. This time, the quarterback was able to get in on a sneak play to make it 6-0. Central would stop the two-point try, the first of four such stops.
The Eagles would drive down the field, trying to answer, before stalling at the 28-yard line. Still, a nice punt coverage job stopped the ball at the 6-yard line to pin Carver in. The Yellow Jackets could gain only two yards, and the punt only reached the 31.
A couple of runs by Ryan Martin netted about six yards, then Palacios picked up six more for a first down. A pass to Matthew White reached the 8 for another first down. A run by Palacios reached the 5, but on the next play, the ball was fumbled at the 10, picked up by a defensive back at the 12 near the visitor sideline. The defender raced straight up the sideline 88 yards for a touchdown to make it 12-0 with 6:38 left in the half.
On the next drive, Central reached the 36 before stalling. It looked Central had downed another terrific punt deep, but the official said the ball just barely crossed the plane for a touchback.
Central promptly knocked Carver backward six yards on the next three plays. On fourth down at the 14, the punter stood at about his own 5-yard line. On the snap, the right side of Central’s line turned and dropped back to block for the punt. The punter just followed the retreating players up the left side, got a couple of key blocks and then continued on for an 86-yard TD run to make it 18-0 with 2:37 left.
After the kickoff and a Palacios run, Central was already at midfield. A 10-yard run by Martin got a first down. A pass to Austin Mills reached the 20-yard line, and a personal foul on the tackle moved the ball to the 10. However, there was only 11.7 seconds left.
After two plays, the Eagles reached the 4 with less than one second on the clock. Palacios kicked a 22-yard field goal to finish the half to make it 18-3.
In the third, Central stalled at its own 46 and punted. Then Carver put together its best drive, eating up clock and earning six first downs all the way to the 2-yard line. A quarterback sneak came up maybe 4 inches short, and a fourth-down pass attempt was broken up by White for a turnover on downs.
That gave Central new life.
With the third quarter expiring, the Eagles moved the ball steadily from their own goal line to the Carver 18. Palacios went right on a keeper, faked out a defender, went back to the middle and was gang-tackled at the 9. A flag was thrown for what looked to be a late hit on Palacios, which would have moved the ball inside the 5.
Instead, another flag for illegal motion nullified the run. And the officials picked up the flag for the personal foul. Rather than first and goal from the 5, the Eagles were at first-and-15 from the 23, and Palacios was walking off the field.
While the QB was stretching on the sideline, a holding call made it first-and-25.
Palacios came back in and set up as a running back next to the backup QB. Palacios ran out to the flat, then turned up the sideline on a wheel route that fooled the linebacker.
Unfortunately, the throw was a good five yards short of the streaking receiver and was picked off by Javaj McMullen at the 20.
Then RB Jeremy Brown broke a 43-yard run down to the 9-yard line to set up a short run. After Brown scored from a yard out, it was 24-3, and Central’s momentum was gone.
Coming into the game, both teams had 1-8 records, but Carver was showing signs of life.
After being roughed up in the first seven games, Carver beat Walkertown and then lost to North Surry by just two points. After giving up 338 points in the first seven games, Carver has surrendered an average of 9.3 points in the past three games.
Carver finishes the season at home against Atkins, while Surry Central travels to Walkertown.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.