FLORA — Carroll’s football team had all of the answers on Friday when Hoosier Heartland Conference foe Eastern visited Lambert Field and left with their second loss of the season in the form of a 42-14 Cougar victory.
The solution for stopping Eastern came in forms aplenty as Class A No. 8-ranked Carroll utilized their run game while stymying drive after drive by the Comets when it was needed most.
However, for Carroll coach Blake Betzner, it was his team’s physicality that stood above the rest.
“We were hoping we could out-physical them,” Betzner said. “That was our goal. We knew they had some athletes we didn’t match up real well against so we hoped our physicality was going to help us and it did. It came through, physically, offense, defensive lines just dominated. … When you win the first 6 inches, you win a lot of games.”
Carroll (5-0, 3-0 HHC) got the ball rolling when a 49-yard connection between Luke Tanner and Clark McClain resulted in the Cougars’ first TD of the night.
The Cougars’ defense added insult to injury on Eastern’s first drive of the game when the Comets were limited to just four plays before Carroll scored on the ensuing drive with a 62-yard rushing TD by Keegan Ellis.
Eastern coach Josh Edwards and his Comets won’t dwell on a loss to a quality team like Carroll but moving forward. He hopes to see his team with a more disciplined play.
“What we take away from that is that number one, when we play good teams we can’t make the mistakes we made [Friday]. We had silly, silly procedure penalties where we’d flinch, move us back five, then another guy would flinch, now we’re first and 20. That’s not the way we want to play football,” Edwards said.
Eastern (3-2, 2-1) stopped the bleeding midway through the first period when Jayden Eagle broke free for a 79-yard run and score, the Comets’ first of the game.
Both teams traded scores at the beginning of the second quarter before Carroll’s Tanner found Grady Lytle for a 12-yard reception and score to create distance between the Cougars and the Comets.
The Cougars’ offense kept up to their same tricks to start the second half when Ellis punched in a two yard rushing TD before Carroll’s offensive trickery resulted in a Lytle to Tanner two point conversion to put the lead at 21.
Eastern played spoiler to Carroll’s early season momentum last season when the Cougars took an early first half lead before the Comets came from behind in a 33-13 victory.
Betzner and Co. were adamant that history wouldn’t repeat itself this season.
“We thought we were here,” Betzner said. “When we talked as coaches, I don’t know if the kids believed it yet but we knew how good this team can be. That’s what they need to understand. We just touched it. We gotta keep improving every day, every week to get where we wanna be but we wanted this one. This was a big one for us.”
Carroll and Sheridan are the last unbeatens in HHC play. Sheridan is 4-0 with Carroll at 3-0.