You never know what to expect in a rivalry game. No lead is safe and East Carter found that out the hard way.
The Raiders led 23-0 at halftime only to see it wither away. Luckily for East, the time ran out as it held on to defeat West Carter 23-21 in Class 3A District 6 play.
“There is no such thing as an ugly win and we’ll take this one,” East Carter coach Zack Moore said. “We need to get mentally tougher. We can’t take our foot off the pedal but give credit to West Carter. They battled all the way and we did not.”
Chase Steele was on a mission on Friday night in Grayson, scoring two touchdowns and running for 300 yards in his final game against the Comets.
The senior tailback said he was not about to go out losing this game.
“I give all of my credit to the offensive line,” Steele said. “They created holes for me to get those yards. ... It was the ‘Battle for the Barrel.’ We wanted to keep it.”
Steele hustled his way for 60 yards in what he thought was a touchdown but went out of bounds inside the 1-yard line. He was rewarded for his efforts as he scored the next play.
Steele was not done in the first half, bursting through the middle of the Comet defensive line for a 71-yard scamper to the end zone. He had 243 yards in the first half alone.
“Chase did a really nice job,” Moore said. “His yards were front-loaded in the first half but we did not, I repeat, did not play well in the second half.”
The Comets were without starting quarterback Braden Brown for the second straight week due to an ankle injury. As a major part of their offense, his absence was missed but the Comets did not back down.
“We were lucky in the first half when they kicked three field goals where they could have likely been touchdowns,” West Carter head coach Kevin Brown said. “We just gave up too many big plays.”
West Carter finally got on the board late in the third quarter as Jacob Nunley scored from five yards out, capitalizing on a Raider turnover inside their own territory. The Comets had a big fourth-down conversion on a Hanshaw-to-Tyler McGlone pass to set up a goal line situation.
To the Comets’ credit, the defense held East scoreless in the second half.
“We shut them down in the second half but we just came up a little bit short,” Brown said. “We were able to make some plays. But time just ran out on us.”
Jacob Nunley did everything he could to keep West Carter in the ballgame, ripping off a big 61-yard run to the East Carter 10 a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Austin Travis did the rest, scoring from 10 yards to bring West within nine at 23-14.
“We needed seniors to step up and Nunley did that and we expect that from them,” Brown said. “He made some big plays for us.”
Raiders kicker Evan Huddle had plenty of work in Grayson with three field goals of 37, 34 and 27 yards. Brown admitted he was the difference in the game.
East ate up 7:13 on the play clock in the fourth quarter to help ice the game. After a turnover on downs, West got into Raider territory and Hanshaw led the Comets to another score, a 27-yard pass to McGlone. After the PAT, it was a two-point game late.
West onside-kicked the ball, but East recovered to run out the clock.
Moore admitted he was not happy about his team’s play in the second half.
“West gets a lot of credit because they are a little mentally tougher than us right now,” Moore said. “I don’t know what the deal is, but we better get it fixed soon. I could not be more disappointed with the way we closed this one out.”