Thursday, March 30

Calhoun’s 33-8 victory over Carrollton ‘huge for our program’

CARROLLTON – Last year’s 65-6 beating from the Carrollton Hawks repeatedly came up in conversations among the Calhoun Warriors this week.

The pain was replaced by smiles Friday night, with the Warriors scoring the game’s final 33 points in a 33-6 victory over the Hawks in a WIVC South football game on Homecoming night at Carrollton High School.

“That’s all we talked about,” Warriors senior Auggie Squier said of the 59-point loss that stands as Calhoun’s worse in more than 40 years. “Remember last year, remember last year, remember last year. We had that in the back of our heads the whole game. Never give up, never let down, always try your hardest. And here we are.”

The victory was Calhoun’s first over Carrollton since a 22-20 win in Hardin in 2009, snapping a Hawks streak of 12 consecutive wins in the series. And it was the Warriors’ first triumph at Carrollton since 2004.

The Warriors were well-schooled on those dates, too.

“It means so much to win here, to beat Carrollton on their home turf,” said Lorton, a junior quarterback who scored two touchdowns in the second half when the Warriors drew off from a 12-8 halftime lead. “We haven’t beaten them here on their home field since 2004, a long time ago. We haven’t beaten them at all since 2009, which was 13 years ago. So, it means a lot to us.”

Calhoun improves to 3-2 and 2-1 in the WIVC South. Carrollton is 2-3 and 1-2 in the league.

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“It’s something new,” Squier said of beating the Hawks. “We hadn’t won here since 2004. Being a part of this team, being a leader for this team, being here, winning this game, it’s just an unreal feeling to be a part of it. To start something new, for this community and this program.”

The game’s first touchdown brought more of the same in a rivalry that had been taken over by Carrollton. Hawks sophomore quarterback Grant Cox ripped off runs of 8, 16, 19 and 20 yards before scoring on a 1-yard TD run and two-point conversion run to cap a 65-yard drive that put Carrollton up 8-0 with 1:45 left in the opening quarter.

But Calhoun’s answer was immediate and emphatic. Chris Stanley broke a couple tackles and outran the Hawks on an 83-yard kick return for a TD that got the Warriors within 8-6.

“That’s exactly what we didn’t want to happen,” Carrollton coach Rodney Flowers said. “You could really see momentum change. And you saw the outcome. We could never overcome that momentum change.”

The Hawks’ next possession produced zero yards and a punt that Calhoun converted into a scoring drive triggered by successive runs of 26 yards by Hunter Roth, 8 yards from Stanley and 9 yards from Conner Longnecker before Longnecker’s 2-yard TD plunge put the Warriors up 12-8.

With Carrollton limited to 67 yards offense and no points in the second half, Calhoun pulled away. Lorton’s 32-yard run sparked a 57-yard drive ending with Lorton’s 1-yard TD run on the third quarter’s opening drive that grew the Warriors’ lead to 19-8.

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Lorton broke off another long run, covering 34 yards, and Stanley added a 17-yard gain before Longnecker again powered in for a TD from 2-yards out to put the Hawks down 26-8 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Lorton’s 12-yard TD run with 7:37 left, on a short-field drive set up by Patrick Friedel’s interception and long return, put Calhoun up 33-8 and the Warriors’ JV offense would replace the starters with 2:44 remaining.

“We knew if we took it and scored, it would be tougher for them to come back on us,” Elmore said of scoring on the first drive of the second half. “We knew we had a little more depth than they did, as well. We rotated some people, we talked about wearing them out all week and I think it the second half, that kind of showed a little bit.”

Lorton rushed 10 times for 81 yards, including nine for 85 in the second half, to lead a Calhoun ground game that accounted for all of the offense’s 267 yards. “Being an option team, we just take what they give us,” Elmore said. “We found a couple plays that worked and kind of stuck with them the second half.”

Longnecker, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound sophomore, added 64 yards on 19 rushes, Stanley had 58 yards on 12 carries and Hunter Roth had 47 yards on seven carries.

Carrollton finished with 137 yards offense, including 109 rushing yards on 23 carries from Cox. Cox completed 1 of 10 passes for 13 yards and two interceptions.

“We’ve got to be able to throw the ball more effectively to run,” Flowers said. “They were tightening things up on us and until we can successfully throw the ball, that’s what defenses are going to do. They’re taking that away from us.”

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Carrollton had outscored Calhoun 215-39 in their previous four matchups, so this was a sweet result for the Warriors.

“It’s huge for our program,” Elmore said. “Carrollton’s been kind of the standard bearer for our conference. We’re trying to get back where we used to be, a perennial playoff team. And I think we took a good step forward tonight.”

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