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The wheels fell off the Panther Express Friday night as the Bellevue Tigers came to town on homecoming night and delivered Carroll their first loss of the season, 30-8.
The Panthers offense was stymied for most of the night, and they turned the ball over four times – two fumbles and two interceptions – and also had a punt blocked.
Their defense forced one turnover, a second-quarter fumble that led to their only scoring drive of the night.
However, the Panthers had trouble tackling, especially Bellevue junior running back Dylan Huff, who scored all four of his team’s touchdowns and a two-point conversion. On the night, he rushed 21 times for 190 yards and caught all three Tiger passes for 53 yards, accounting for 243 of his team’s 291 total yards.
“He’s a good player,” Carroll head coach Mike Weedman said. “He found the right gap at the right time.”
Weedman gave all the credit to Bellevue during his post-game interview following the loss. “Bellevue did a great job. Their players played well and the Bellevue coaching staff did a great job against us. All the credit goes to Bellevue. We couldn’t get anything going offensively, they hurt us at key times in the game, and we just never could get anything going. It just wasn’t our night.”
The bigger issue down the road for the Panthers may be injuries, as several players were banged up at the end of the night, including junior quarterback John Michael Adams, who ultimately left the game due to a hamstring injury.
Adams came up limping toward the end of the first quarter and was seen stretching it out on the sideline. But he re-entered the game and gave a great effort against the Tigers.
“I thought John Michael showed a lot of character tonight,” Weedman said. “He never wanted to quit, and I think had it not been for us pulling him, he would have continued to do that. But it wasn’t smart to keep him in the game.”
Freshman backup Isaiah Hogan went under center for the Panthers when Adams left the game for good in the fourth quarter. “I thought Isaiah did a really good job stepping in there, and he made some really good throws,” Weedman said. “He did some good things when he had to.”
Weedman also praised senior Dillon Craig, who caught four balls for 68 yards, for his effort. “Dillon Craig played very well,” he said. “He showed a lot of character and integrity tonight.”
Despite a week full of distractions due to homecoming, Weedman said he believes his team came in ready to go.
The Panthers took the opening kickoff straight down the field, but the Tigers ripped the ball away as Carroll carried the ball inside the 10-yard-line. Bellevue could not convert and punted away.
The first points came five plays later when Carroll turned the ball over again inside the 10-yard-line, and Huff returned the interception 92 yards for the score.
Carroll’s defense returned the favor toward the beginning of the second quarter when Josh Gibbs recovered a fumble. Gibbs finished the game with five tackles.
On the second play of the drive, senior running back Tyshaun Embs broke away for a 52-yard scamper for a touchdown. Adams completed a pass to senior Zach Birch for the two-point conversion, 8-6.
Besides the touchdown, the Tiger defense limited Embs for much of the game. He finished with 210 yards on 26 carries, with a chunk of it coming in the fourth quarter.
Huff scored on a touchdown run and converted the 2-point PAT with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter to put the Tigers ahead 14-8 at the half.
He scored again on the Tigers’ third play from scrimmage to open the second half, and sophomore quarterback Tyler Ackerson tossed a pass to sophomore Zack Poinsett for two points, 22-8.
The Tigers’ last score came with 6:43 remaining in the third when Huff was left wide open for a 44-yard touchdown catch and run. Poinsett was credited for the two-point conversion, 30-8.
In the post-game huddle, Weedman told his team, “We will be OK.” While it may hurt to lose, he reminded the team that the season starts Monday, referring to their preparations for their first district game against Walton-Verona.
Assistant coach J.P. Dale urged the team to keep their heads up and only look forward.
“How we respond to this is what will define us,” he said.
The Panthers will battle the Bearcats at home Friday, Sept. 21, hoping for redemption after losing 48-14 on the road last year.
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Carroll, 14; Bellevue, 9
Carroll, 7/60 yards; Bellevue, 6/50 yards
Carroll, 35/218 yards; Bellevue, 36/238 yards
Carroll, 12/24 for 197 yards, 2 INT; Bellevue, 3 completions for 53 yards
Tyshaun Embs: 26/210 yards, TD
John Michael Adams: 4/0 yards
Blake Newby: 2/5 yards
Dillon Craig: 1/0 yards
Isaiah Hogan: 2/-4 yards
John Michael Adams: 9-19, 177 yards, 2 INT
Isaiah Hogan: 3-5, 20 yards
Zach Birch, 2/50 yards
Dillon Craig, 4/68 yards
Blake Newby, 4/70 yards
Tyshaun Embs, 2/9 yards
Tyler Ackerson: 3-7, 53 yards, 1 TD
Dylan Huff: 21/190 yards, 2 TD
Zack Poinsett, 5/24 yards
Justin Hatch: 2/6 yards
Branden Lawrey: 5/13 yards
Tyler Ackerson: 3/5 yards
Dylan Huff: 3/53 yards, TD
Blake Newby, 8 solo, 2 asst, 1 pass def
Zach Birch, 4 solo, 1 asst
Dillon Craig, 2 solo, 2 asst
Cam Smith, 3 solo, 5 asst
Matt Bartley, 2 solo, 1 asst
Will Wallace, 3 solo, 3 asst
Cameron Rose, 1 asst
Casey Breeden, 2 solo, 4 asst, 1 TFL
Tae Mumphrey, 2 solo
Keifer McIntyre, 1 solo, 3 asst, 1 pas def
Caleb Guenthner, 1 solo
Josh Gibbs, 1 solo, 4 asst, 1 fumble recovery
Simon Guo, 3 solo, 2 asst