Warriors can’t put the spike in Railroaders
Whittell High had no business leading Carlin late in a Nevada 2A division football game Saturday in Zephyr Cove.
The Warriors ‘O’ looked like they were lugging a medicine ball instead of a pigskin, producing five first downs and 112 total offensive yards. But two fumble recoveries by freshman Nick Summers and a third-quarter safety put Whittell in position to win its second straight division game. However, Carlin eventually capitalized on its superior running game, scoring twice in the final 5 minutes for a 22-10 victory.
“What it comes down to is we didn’t execute right. I think we executed better the first two games,” said Whittell coach Larry Reilly. “A lot of it comes down to inexperience and that’s something we’ll have to fix.”
Considering the Warriors only manufactured one first down in the opening 24 minutes – a pass interference penalty with 30 seconds left in the half – Whittell had to feel pretty good about trailing 6-0 at the break.
“Our line broke down. We weren’t getting the job done, and we were having problems running up the middle,” said Whittell senior two-way lineman Cody Williamson. “I have to give them credit, they were a good team, but we should have done a lot better and beat them.”
A fumble recovery by Summers at the WHS 11 on Carlin’s first drive prevented the Railroaders from establishing some breathing room by halftime. And when Summers covered a Garrett Sirotek coughup on the Carlin 16 on the first series of the third quarter Whittell was in business.
However, the Warriors’ offense went nowhere in four plays and the six-point lead looked like enough for the Railroaders. But Alex Swearingen stopped shifty Railroader quarterback Devin Meshepski for an 8-yard loss, setting up an errant punt snap a few plays later. The snap sailed into the end zone and a posse of Warriors made sure the home boys got at least two points on the board.
“I was yelling for them to let him out of the end zone, but the referees decided he didn’t come out,” said Reilly, who was led to believe one of the officlals marked the ball at the 1.
Nonetheless, the defensive points awakened the Warrior offense. Chauncey Lane returned the ensuing free kick 12 yards to the Carlin 46, and 11 plays later Luke Forvilly tiptoeed inside the pylon for a 6-yard TD dash to give Whittell its only lead 8-6. Joel Warnick delivered the biggest plays of the drive – a 15-yard gain on a swing pass and an 11-yard run around end. Keith Truswell avoided a defender in his face to find sophomore Brian Jones for the two-point conversion, extending WHS’s lead to 10-6 with 42 seconds left in the third period.
After holding Carlin on its next possession, the Warriors were poised to deliver the knockout punch. Forvilly’s 18-yard punt return set up the drive on the WHS 43 and on third down the speedster got behind defenders on a deep route. However, the pass was knocked out of harm’s way.
“The ball was underthrown and Luke had beaten his guy by 5 yards,” Reilly said. “I tell you it was the only time we came close to getting him the ball where we wanted to get the ball.”
Forvilly didn’t let the misconnection bother him as he drove a 56-yard punt that nearly rolled out of bounds at the 1 with 8:23 left. But as it turned out the booming punt only gave Carlin more real estate to add to its portfolio. A 15-yard pass reception by Bicandi and a 29-yuard bust by Steve McCool on a trap play put WHS’s overworked defense on its heels. Bicandi scored five plays later on a 10-yard run that culminated with him somersaulting into the end zone. McCool tacked on a two-point conversion run to put Carlin ahead 14-10 with 5:08 remaining.
“Up four points with 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to hold them,” Williamson said. “When we got ahead it was like everybody said, ‘We don’t have to do any more.'”
A holding penalty negated a nice return by Forvilly on the following kickoff, forcing the Warriors to start their comeback bid from their 20. Truswell converted a third down and 10 with a 15-yard pass to Summers, but the air went out of the rally on the next play when Forvilly’s halfback option pass was swiped by Meshepski.
“We could have done it, but we just played like we practiced this whole week … lack of effort and me not getting the ball to Luke,” Truswell said. “If I can get the ball to Luke on the fly, it’s a touchdown every time. The line did a great job except for the last few plays of the game, and then I had to scramble around.”
Bicandi’s 22-yard touchdown run with 2:04 left effectively finished the Warriors.
Whittell (1-2 overall, 1-1 in division) travels to play rival Incline on Saturday in Incline Village.
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