Carroll conquers Keller Fossil Ridge, 70-7; wins district 4-5A
BY Matthew Costa, Staff Writer
SOUTHLAKE -- The hot starting ability of the Southlake Carroll football team (8-1 overall, 6-0 in district 4-5A) was put to the test.
But they ultimately proved to Keller Fossil Ridge (3-6 overall, 3-3 in district 4-5A) why they are the 4-5 champions in a 70-7 victory Friday night.
"We had a good game plan coming in," said Kenny Hill, senior quarterback and Texas A&M commit. "It just took us a second to get going, but it showed on the scoreboard."
Early in the game, Fossil Ridge looked like a team unafraid of Carroll's vaunted offense, allowing just seven points through the first five minutes of the game to a team averaging 24 points in the first quarter in the last five matches.
Having been forced into a rare three-and-out on their first drive, the Dragons quickly stopped Fossil Ridge to give the ball back to the Carroll offense. Hill accounted for 76 yards on the 80-yard drive and finished the series off with a 13-yard run to the end zone, putting the Dragons in front, 7-0.
After recovering a fumble from Hill, the Panthers looked to be in business. Fossil Ridge quarterback Jacob Gnacinski threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by senior corner Connor Combs and gave the ball back to the Carroll offense near midfield.
"We worked on that route all week," Combs said. "I just knew it was coming, so I just sat there and he threw it right to me."
Five plays later, junior running back A.J. Ezzard doubled the Dragons' lead at 14-0 with a 15-yard touchdown run. Ezzard was able to bounce off several Panthers defenders as he crossed the goal line, giving the junior his 11th touchdown run of the season.
The Dragons benefited greatly from their field position all night, as senior returner Tanner Jacobson gave the offense a huge boost, returning three punts in the first half for a total of 71 yards.
One of those returns set the Dragons up at the Fossil Ridge 25-yard line. The offense needed only five plays to capitalize on the short field, using a 9-yard run by Hill to push the lead further to 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Hill had another stellar first half, completing 14-of-18 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns, along with 113 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Another interception from Gnacinski to Combs and another 9-yard touchdown sprint to the end zone by Hill pushed the lead further with eight minutes left in the second quarter. Hill quickly followed it up with a 2-play drive for the Dragons next score on his fourth rushing touchdown in barely a quarter-and-a-half, giving Carroll a 35-0 lead.
[The defense] has come a long way," said Hal Wasson, Carroll head coach. "It's a great thing for them to create turnovers for us."
A fumble by Gnacinski put his defense in another tough spot, as Carroll needed only four plays to travel 44 yards. Hill added his first passing touchdown, followed by his second on the following drive to finalize the first-half scoring at 56-0.
With the halftime score so lopsided, Wasson elected to bring in sophomore quarterback Ryan Agnew and the rest of the backup offensive players, but the Panthers were unable to mount any attempt at a comeback. The Dragons would go on to win both the game and the title of 4-5A champions with a 70-7 victory.
"Our first goal is always an outright district championship," Hill said. "We just want to keep playing at least until Thanksgiving."
Hill and the Dragons will look to continue their run through district with the regular-season finale versus Haltom at 7 p.m. on Friday.