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Playoff Victory over Talladega
Posted On:
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Carroll wins first round of the Playoffs

All season long, Carroll High has relied on its tenacious defense to win close games.

Friday was nothing new for the Eagles. They forced four first-half turnovers – including two interceptions by Stanquez Mulkey and another pick by Nathaniel Ward – and Markel Lewis scored both touchdowns in Carroll’s 12-6 victory over stubborn Talladega on Friday night at Matthews Stadium in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs .

It was a defensive struggle throughout until the final minute. Carroll (11-0) scored an insurance touchdown on a 27-yard bomb up the left sideline to Lewis from quarterback Trey Buchanan with 49 seconds left in the game. That put the Eagles up 12-0.

Talladega’s only score came on the final play of the game. Quarterback Ashton Duncan completed a desperation heave to Fred Dickerson as time expired. Carroll defensive backs Mulkey and Mazue Martin collided while trying to break up the completion. Dickerson gathered it in and ran about 15 more yards into the end zone to complete the 50-yard touchdown play.

Before that, it was a long night offensively for the visiting Tigers (6-5). Duncan completed one pass for four yards on six passes in the first half. Three of those passes were intercepted. He was 8 for 14 for 102 yards, unofficially, after halftime, including the last-play TD that avoided the shutout.

Carroll didn’t dominate the line of scrimmage when it had the ball, either. On a night when standout running back Jonathan Fells was limited with a hamstring injury, Lewis was the leader on the ground for the Eagles. He finished with 70 yards rushing on 20 carries.

His 8-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds left in the first half broke a scoreless tie and handed the home team a 6-0 halftime lead.

Fells had 15 carries – 12 in the first half – and gained 35 yards. Buchanan was 0 for 2 passing in the first half and 2 for 2 through the air in the second half, including the touchdown to Lewis in the final minute.

“I don’t know how good they are, I don’t know how good we are sometimes,” Carroll coach Roger McDonald said. “We play real hard and they played hard.

“Defense, that what we said we were going to try to win with all year. It’s won 11 games now – and we ain’t going to change what we’re doing. It gives us a chance.”

The coach credited punter John Goolsby’s performance. Goolsby hit four punts that netted 39 yards or more. He also had a 50-yard punt for a touchback and another 36-yard punt that was downed at the Talladega 2-yard line.

“John does a good job punting and we did a good job covering. That was a big part of the game,” McDonald said.

Carroll had 22 rushing plays that went for 1 yard, no yards or negative yardage – 15 of those were in the second half.

“Hey, they got after it. We just couldn’t move the ball,” McDonald said. “But that’s been the way it’s been a lot this year. We just keep playing defense and try not to turn it over.”

The Eagles won the turnover battle 4-0. All four turnovers – the interceptions and a fumble recovery by Tyquez Miller – produced just six points in the first half.

With three minutes left in the first half, Talladega’s Duncan looked to pass, but he lost the ball as he drew his arm back. The ball was gone before he started his throwing motion and Miller recovered at the Tigers’ 23.

Six plays later, Lewis squirted through a hole over right guard on a quick hitter on an 8-yard run with 33 seconds on the clock.

McDonald was asked if not cashing in on more of the turnover opportunities was frustrating.

“It ain’t frustrating because we know what we are,” the coach said. “It’d be frustrating if thought we were going to score 40 points a game. But we understand what we are. We just don’t want to turn it back over.

“That’s kind of what we do. … You play to your strengths and try not to screw them up with bad calls.”

He did call the late touchdown pass from Buchanan to Lewis, which came on fourth-and-12 from the 27, “a great pass, great catch.”

“I said, ‘Look, we’re going to have to go for it anyway. Let’s throw it to the end zone and see what happens,’” McDonald said. “They did a great job.”

The Carroll Eagles will take on St. Paul Episcopal Saints in Round 2 of the playoffs Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:00 pm at home. The gate opens at 5:30 pm all tickest are $8.00. Please come out and support the Carroll Eagles

Complements Dothan Eagle


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