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Trimble grid season concludes with loss at Carroll

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By KRISTIN BECK
Landmark News Service
The Carroll Count Panthers secured a spot in the district playoffs Friday night, defeating Trimble County 52-22 at Panther Field. With a week 11 bye, the Raiders end the season winless, 0-10.
Trimble head coach Justin Franklin said it was more disappointing not being in the playoffs than it was being shutout this season.
“We’re used to growing from a young team and taking losses like that,” he said. “We’ve had to battle through so many deficits like this, or attempt to come back from deficits. I feel like we’ve become acclimated to this situation.”
On the other side of the ball, Carroll head coach Lee Downey said a win was a win. “I just want the kids to win,” he said. “It don’t matter if it’s in the district or it’s just another opponent, every time we come out here, that’s what we want. The kids worked really hard in practice this week, applied themselves. I kept on stressing, it’s not an individual game. We had to put an effort together as a team, and that’s what we did tonight. We really showed up and we played both sides of the ball well. Special teams let down just a little bit on a return, but other than that we played really well. We held our character, our poise tonight, I thought, and that always helps too.”
The game started out on an unlucky foot for the Raiders. After being stopped on their first drive, it looked like the visitors might catch a break. The snap for the punt was fumbled, and the punter threw a pass to Justin Isaac, who carried the ball inside Carroll’s 10-yard-line. But the play was called back after a penalty for an illegal man down field, forcing Trimble to punt again. This time, it was fielded by Carroll’s Logan McIntyre and returned to Trimble’s 40-yard-line. After a 30-yard first-down pass from Isaiah Hogan to Shawn Sturdivant, the Panthers scored four plays later as Hogan hit Tommy Perkins with an 8-yard touchdown pass. Angel Medina connected on the PAT, 7-0. Medina would hit 4-5 PATs on the night.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, Carroll got the ball back near midfield. Hogan connected with McIntyre on a 39-yard touchdown pass, 14-0.
On the ensuing drive, the Raiders notched their first first down of the game. But on the next play, quarterback Tracer Fox threw into double coverage and was picked off by Eli Yocum at the five-yard-line. Carroll’s Kyle Prosser took the hand off on the Panthers’ first play and escaped the Raiders’ defense for a 95-yard touchdown run, 21-0.
The Raiders did not give up, putting together their first long drive of the game on the ensuing possession. Robert Harris returned the kickoff to Trimble’s 42-yard-line, and the Raiders put together a nine-play driver, resulting in a 1-yard keeper by Fox, 21-6.
But the Panthers’ offense was not done yet in the first half. McIntyre returned the kickoff to his team’s 49 yard-line. After a 1-yard rush by Prosser, Rose broke free for a 49-yard scamper, tackled just short of the goal line. The Panthers went backwards on the next play, penalized for a chop block, but it didn’t matter. McIntyre and Hogan hooked up again, this time from 12 yards out, to extend the lead, 27-6.
The Raiders converted on one fourth down on their next drive, but the drive stalled near midfield, forcing another punt.
Trimble’s defense finally stood tall against Carroll’s offense on the next drive, forcing Carroll’s first punt of the night. But the Raiders could not take advantage, as Rose forced a fumble, and Ben Shelton recovered it.
With 1:36 left in the half, Carroll converted a first down, but the drive stalled on a fourth-and-10 incompletion with just 10 seconds left in the half.
The Panthers got the ball back to start the third quarter and put together a four-and-a-half minute drive of mostly running plays. Lucas Gibbs escaped the Trimble defense for a 37-yard-touchdown, but it was called back on a holding call. The Panthers could not overcome the setback and were forced to punt.
However, the junior running back got another opportunity on Carroll’s next drive, scoring from 13 yards out, 34-6.
Trimble received a big boost from Michael Russett, as the senior returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, 34-14.
The Raiders had a chance to pull within two scores after recovering a Panther fumble, but were unable to move the chains, punting back to the home team.
After a nice return by McIntyre, Hogan connected with Shawn Sturdivant on a 21-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive, 40-14.
Trimble’s Kristopher Weaver converted on fourth down to keep his team’s next drive alive, but another fumble gave the ball back to Carroll. Rose carried the ball four times on the drive, including a 24-yard touchdown scamper with 6:41 left in the game.
The Raiders continued to fight, moving the ball to the three-yard-line. In a strange string of events, Trimble fumbled the ball to Carroll and Carroll gave it right back on their first play, giving Trimble a first-and-goal from the six. Weaver scored the touchdown, and Joey Robinson crossed the goal line on the two-point conversion, 46-22.
After recovering an onside kick attempt, the Panthers’ second-string ran out the clock. Ethan Zeyak scored the last touchdown of the game from 11 yards out, and Skyler Sturdivant scored on the two-point conversion, 52-22.   
Hogan finished the game 10-17 for 155 yards and four touchdowns. McIntyre led the team in receptions with four for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Shawn Sturdivant pulled in two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers grinded out 330 yards on the ground, with Rose leading the way with 13 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. Prosser carried the ball five times for 103 yards and a touchdown. Zeyak had four carries for 62 yards and a touchdown, and Gibbs logged 33 yards on four carries and a score.
 “I hate to ever say that we try to ease up a little bit, but we wanted to stop throwing the ball,” Downey said. “We wanted to grind the ball out a little bit more, eat some of the clock and just go ahead and control the ball, and we wanted to get our freshmen in there.”
For the Raiders, Fox was 2-8 for 30 yards, with both passes going to Gilley. The Raiders gained 131 yards on the ground. Russett led the way with 15 carries for 75 yards, while Weaver had 36 yards on 14 carries and Fox had 20 yards on 12 carries.
Carroll will celebrate senior night Friday against Dayton before competing on the road in the 2A playoffs.
But for Trimble, the season is over. From deflections that turned into receptions to scrambling punters throwing for touchdowns, “anything that could go wrong this year has went wrong,” Franklin said. “… It’s been like that all year. The timing of these things this year, it’s been hard for us to wrap our minds around it.”
Despite the loss, the Raiders appeared to be in good spirits after the game.
“These guys love each other, and I don’t mean a soft care, I mean a deep, passionate love. They’re brothers,” Franklin said. “… They’re hugging each other now, smiling after getting beat by 30.”
The Raiders will graduate 10 seniors this year: Fox, Tanner Hallgarth, Harris, Isaac, Nathan Johnson, David Mcfall, Robinson, Russett, Nathan Stewart and Weaver. Next year’s squad will play the same schedule, and Franklin believes the team will fare better in 2016, as Bishop Brossart, Washington County and Ludlow will all lose big senior classes. “I think we compete with them next year, I really believe that,” he said. “We bring a lot of good quality skill players back.”
 

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