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Carroll junior Tyshawn Embs made his presence known as he returned to the lineup and rushed for 222 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns to help propel the Panthers over the visiting Dayton Greendevils 28-12 on Senior Night.
“It was so refreshing to see Tyshawn have the game that he did,” head coach Mike Weedman said. “He needed that game; he needed that game for himself. Our team needed him to have that game because he’s had a rough couple of weeks.”
“What we’ve preached to all the players is that we need the underclassmen to start playing. We need the juniors to start playing like their seniors, the sophmores like juniors and the freshman like sophomores and I think tonight, you saw Tyshawn play like a senior.”
The Carroll offense rushed for a total of 395 yards against Dayton (1-9), but the game was tighter than the score indicates. Leading just 7-0 at halftime, the Panthers’ defense stepped up on multiple occasions, forcing the Greendevils to turn the ball over on downs four times, giving the offense the opportunity to put the game away.
After exchanging punts on their opening drives, Dayton started their second drive from their own 16-yard line. They were forced to punt, but Carroll was called for a roughing the kicker penalty, giving the Greendevils a new set of downs. However, they could not take advantage of the opportunity and turned the ball back over to the Panthers with 11:10 remaining in the second quarter. Butcher and Embs went to work, with Butcher capping off the drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone. Senior Ben Newby tacked on the extra point to give Carroll a 7-0 lead.
On their next drive, Dayton’s junior running back Dejujuan Walker broke free down the sideline for a 40-yard scamper to the 10-yard-line. Embs made a touchdown-saving tackle, and the Carroll defense forced a run for no gain and three incomplete passes. Weedman said Embs was the only player on the field who could have caught Walker and called it the “series of the game.”
The Panthers made two first downs before the drive stalled. Newby’s punt hit a Dayton player, and senior Evan Mefford recovered at the Greendevil 17-yard-line. On fourth down, Carroll lined up for a field goal attempt, but faked it and Newby took off with the ball down the left sideline. The referees marked the ball about 1 yard short, ending the half.
Carroll opened the second half with a heavy dose of Butcher on the ground, including a hard-nosed run through the Dayton ‘D’ to the 6-yard-line, setting up a touchdown run by senior Trent Downs, 14-0.
Walker returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, giving his team excellent field position. On 4th and 10, senior Tr Smith threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Walker. The kick was no good, making the score 14-6.
With 10:14 remaining in the fourth quarter, junior Dillon Craig broke free up the middle of the field for an 80-yard run on Carroll’s first play from scrimmage. Unfortunately, it was called back because of a holding penalty. The drive resulted in an interception by Dayton’s senior defensive back Danny Sparks, who returned the ball to Carroll’s 33 yard-line. On fourth down, senior Evan Mefford tipped the ball away from a Greendevil receiver, giving the ball back to the Panthers.
On the first play of the drive, Embs broke free up the middle of the field to the 13-yard-line. He punched the ball over for a score on the next play, giving his team a 21-6 advantage.
The Carroll defense held Dayton on four straight downs on their next possession, and Embs scored again off of a 30-yard run, 28-6.
The final score of the game came on Dayton’s next possession when Sparks caught a touchdown pass with 53 seconds left in the contest.
While Walker accumulated 94 rushing yards, Weedman said he was proud of his defense’s ability to stop him when it really mattered. “He’s one of the best we’ve seen all year,” he said. “… I was worried about him breaking one, and I knew if we didn’t score in that opening possession that that would be the perfect opportunity for him to score, but we held him in check all night.”
The win capped off an 8-2 season for the Panthers and the last home game for the team’s 11 seniors: Travis Branum, Carson Butcher, Nick Carroll, Logan Doll, Trent Downs, Jared Eskew, Dylan Jack, Evan Mefford, Ben Newby, Duane Robbins and Rowdy Yates.
“Those 8 wins didn’t come easy,” Weedman said. “… We played a lot of good games and those wins didn’t come easy. This eight win season is very rewarding for the amount of work that these seniors put in, not just this year, but for four years because we have a lot of players on this team who have contributed for many years.”
Downs said the team has come together a little more each year. “Now we’re a whole and I think it showed this season, 8-2,” he said. “It’s indescribable. I never thought it would come, and now it’s here and it’s indescribable.”
Carroll will take on District 6’s Holy Cross (Covington) (7-3) Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Holmes High School. This is their third match-up in four years.
Tyshawn Embs, 15/222 yards, 2 TD
Carson Butcher, 14/151 yards, TD
Blake Newby, 1/10 yards
Trent Downs, 4/2 yards, TD
Travis Branum, 1/1
Ben Newby, 1/11
Trent Downs, 3/9 for 38 yards, INT
Carson Butcher, 1/10 yards
Blake Newby, 1/20 yards
Dillon Craig, 1/8 yards
Team: 35/129 yards
Dejujuan Walker, 94 yards
Team: 5/18 for 125 yards