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Led by junior running back Carson Butcher, the Carroll County offense pounded the ball against Gallatin County, scoring 40 points in the first half and winning 47-2 at Panther Field. Butcher rushed for 253 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
“Our mentality is that we don’t care what defense people put at us, we’re going to run whatever we want,” Head Coach Mike Weedman said. “We want to dictate what we run. We don’t want to have to scheme around the defense; we want the defense to have to scheme around us.”
The Panther air attack also got off the ground with junior quarterback Trent Downs going 5-14 for 75 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Weedman said he thought Downs played excellent, despite being sick, and did not make any bad reads. However, in order for his team to be successful, other people need to make plays, he said.
“Trent is throwing the ball where he needs to throw the ball. … I’ve got to be harder on my receivers,” Weedman said, noting a number of dropped balls that should have been caught. “ … We’re in a tough district, and there is going to come a point in the season where we are going to be physically outmatched to where we’re going to have to pass the ball.”
In last year’s match-up against the Wildcats, the Panthers got off to a slow start and committed a number of mistakes, which was why Weedman and his coaching staff stressed the importance of striking early this season.
“We didn’t want to give them the opportunity to be in the ball game,” he said. “We wanted to dictate the pace of this game.”
The Panthers (2-0) did just that.
Butcher scored with a run up the middle with 8:47 remaining in the first quarter. Following a missed extra point attempt, the Panthers forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, recovered by junior Tyshawn Embs. Downs threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior Brody Newby, and junior Ben Newby converted the two-point conversion, making the score 14-0.
On their next possession, Butcher scored on a 17-yard run with 6:50 to go in the first quarter. Ben Newby kicked the extra point, making the score 21-0.
In the second quarter, senior fullback Wesley Haynes scored on a run from two yards out, and Ben Newby converted the PAT, 28-0.
Senior linebacker Ric Reichert intercepted Gallatin County with 7:54 to go in the second quarter, setting up Butcher for his third touchdown of the game. The PAT was blocked, putting the Carroll County lead at 34-0.
The Panthers would score once more in the half, a 1-yard run by senior offensive lineman Billy Mertz II, putting the home team ahead 40-0 going into the locker room.
Carroll County’s final score of the night would come on a 1-yard run by senior tight end Jared Powell with 7:15 to go in the third quarter.
Weedman said he was proud of his defense and the amount of pressure his players were able to put on Gallatin County’s freshman quarterback. The Panthers registered 10 sacks in the game and held the Wildcats to just two first downs, 26 rushing yards and four passing yards.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do,” he said. “We always want to put pressure on the quarterback, but we knew he was young, so we stressed the importance of (it).”
The Wildcat’s lone points of the game came on a safety in the fourth quarter. The long snap flew over the head of the Carroll County punter and Gallatin County made the tackle in the end zone with 11:39 remaining.
“Lack of discipline. The small things are what we need to correct at this point,” Weedman said. “ … We played well tonight, but we’ve got to continue to make progress.”
The Panthers will be on the road this week, playing Ludlow High School at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers won the match-up last year, 36-21.