Trent Fox supplied the red, white and blue icing.
“It’s big,” Carroll High School’s senior quarterback said. “There are a lot of things this win represents.”
Carroll christened its new Spoerl-Bartlett Field with first-year head football coach Cody Byrd’s initial win Friday. The Patriots beat Tecumseh 23-13 in a non-league game featuring traditional playoff regulars coming off their first winning seasons since 2010 and ‘12, respectively. The night had a postseason feel.
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“The dedication ceremony … having Coach Bartlett here … it meant the world to our community and team,” Byrd said. “Being able to protect this home field was absolutely crucial.”
A week removed from a disappointing 35-28 loss to Columbus DeSales – in which Carroll dominated in first downs, total yards and time of possession, but was doomed by four turnovers – the Patriots lost a fumble on Tecumseh’s 5 on their opening drive.
The Arrows, coming off their own disappointing 36-0 loss to Fairborn, responded methodically. Using a 21-play drive that drained 11:51 off the game clock, Tecumseh took a 7-0 lead on Wyatt Fergusen’s 1-yard touchdown run. Only six plays on the drive were longer than five yards.
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“That’s who we are,” Tecumseh head coach Chris Cory said. “That’s who Tecumseh’s always been.”
Both teams traded first half pick-sixes.
Carroll senior Sam Severt returned a 29-yard interception for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 13-7 lead with 2:51 left in the first half. Tecumseh’s Connor McCorkle returned the favor on the second to last snap of the second quarter.
“We had an open receiver,” Byrd joked when referencing the pick-six before half.
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Carroll made amends on the first play of the third quarter. Fox hit Donovan LaJeunesse on a 68-yard touchdown pass.
“We saw the space they were giving us,” Byrd said. “We had to come out and take advantage of that. We’ve talked to the receivers about taking a small play and turning it into a big play. Donovan did a fantastic job of that.”
Said Fox: “We knew they were playing us weak on the perimeter. We just said ‘Go out and beat them.’”
Tecumseh’s effort was almost enough.
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Limiting Carroll to just 13 first half plays and 34 for the game, the Arrows’ Wing-T offense was effective. Tecumseh simply didn’t cap drives with points.
“If I don’t have to throw, I won’t,” Cory said. “The kids had that mentality tonight, which we didn’t have last week against Fairborn. I was proud of them for that.”
Tecumseh’s three-second half possessions ended in turnover on downs.
“We tell the kids all we want is a chance,” Cory said. “The kids put us in a position to have a chance. They handled the big night pretty well.”
So did Carroll. And it’s QB.
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“I don’t put pressure on myself,” Fox said. “It’s ‘next play mentality’ every play.
“Even if I throw a pick – like I did on the last play of the first half today – I have to shake it off and come out the first play of the third quarter and throw a touchdown.”
Said Byrd: “At the end of the day this is his team.”
Replied Fox: “We stepped up to the challenge.”