When they needed it, Remy Richardson or Ethan Lengeling seemed to be right around the corner to make the play.
Friday night the Carroll Tigers were able to gain a 24-14 victory over Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. Not only was the win Carroll’s second straight, but they were also able to continue their dominating defense.
The Tigers were challenged before the game, after lackluster starts in their first two weeks, coach Craig Rowedder had a challenge for the Tigers going into their game against the Yellow Jackets.
“I challenged the guys to come out fast,” Rowedder said. “The last two weeks we weren’t able to get out to fast starts, so we wanted to start out fast tonight.”
Providing that fast start was Remy Richardson who carried the opening kickoff far down the field, and set the Tigers up with favorable field position. The drive eventually stalled out, and Carroll would settle for an early field goal from Elijah Lee, putting the Tigers up early.
The little lead lasted for longer than expected as the Carroll defense continued to stop the attack of Thomas Jefferson throughout the rest of the first half.
Things had stalled out though and the game was getting stale.
“You have to give credit to TJ because they brought some defensive formations up front that we hadn’t seen on film, and they were able to take away our running game,” Rowedder said. “We were able to get some momentum with a pass play right before halftime.”
Just before halftime the staleness of the first half started eating away at the Carroll offense. That’s when Lengeling was able to deliver the first of his big plays in the game.
With time running out in the first half, and TJ assured to get the ball to start the second half, Lengeling was able to connect with Nick Macke on a crossing pattern through the middle of the field.
After catching the ball Macke immediately stepped away from a Thomas Jefferson defender. From there Macke was able to race his way 38 yards down field for the score.
“Going up 10-0 before halftime was huge,” Rowedder said. “We knew that TJ had a great quarterback, and while we were hopeful that we’d keep the zero on the board, we knew that they could score on some big plays.”
Thomas Jefferson was able to score early in the third quarter to make it 10-6 midway through the third quarter.
That’s when Richardson and Lengeling were able to team together to help the Tigers get back on the scoreboard. Another long return by Richardson allowed Carroll to start with positive field position.
It didn’t hurt that Rowedder and his coaching staff had figured out a way to run away from the TJ defense.
“I finally got smart in the second half,” Rowedder said. “Instead of running up the middle into a wall, we would try the edge, and once we got the edge we were able to run the ball a little bit more.”
Using the legs, and tough running skills of Cooper Ludwig and Jireh Gallegos, the Tigers were able to get inside the Yellow Jacket five yard line. From there Lengeling was able to use his feet to get the rest of the way. After nearly scoring on a end rush, Lengeling was able to sneak his way across the goal line for a touchdown as the Tigers increased their lead 17-6.
Thomas Jefferson answered immediately with a 51-yard touchdown pass to close the game 17-14 with 7:42 left in the fourth.
Carroll’s offense wasn’t able to add to their lead on the next drive, and Thomas Jefferson started to move the ball more freely down the field.
Just as Thomas Jefferson was getting momentum, Richardson was able to make his final game-changing play of the night.
“So Remy was actually the guy who was beat on the 51-yard touchdown pass the drive before, but he, and the rest of the team didn’t hang their heads after giving up that score,” Rowedder said.
Just as the TJ drive was gaining momentum, the Yellow Jackets threw a pass to the receiver that Richardson was covering. Just as the receiver caught the ball, Richardson was able to hit the receiver. On top of that, Richardson was able to pry the ball loose and recover the loose ball for a fumble recovery.
From there Lengeling and the Carroll offense went to work. Lengeling was able to score off a quarterback sneak from about two feet away from the goal line. That gave Carroll the ultimate 24-14 score that they needed to gain their second straight win of the season.
“The guys are learning the game well,” Rowedder said about his team. “It was pretty evident in the first week we were trying to learn the pace of the game. From week one to week two we grew a lot and even from last week to this week we stayed the course and made the adjustments to get things rolling in the second half.”
Lengeling completed three of his 13 pass attempts for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper Ludwig led the Tigers with 97 rushing yards. Gallegos added 58 yards. Lengeling had 24 yards and Zach Dirkx finished with two rushing yards. Overall the Tigers had 177 rushing yards.
Macke caught one pass for 38 yards and a touchdown. Dirkx caught two passes for 27 yards.
Both Payton Wardell and Tanner Pontow finished with 5.5 tackles to lead the Tigers. Richardson added five total tackles.
Carroll (2-1) will be on the road next week to play Storm Lake (0-2). Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.