Western Reserve (9-2) scored 20 points in about 2 minutes and 36 seconds. But the deciding factor in the Friday’s Division VI Region 22 playoff game at Bachelder Field happened within 10 seconds.
The Roughriders led 41-35 with 1:37 left on the clock. Carey (6-5) ended a nearly 50-yard drive with a 5-yard run into the end zone 66 seconds later. Anthony Bell’s extra point — his sixth of the game — gave the Blue Devils a 42-41 lead.
Western running back Cody Benesh took the hand off in the second play of the subsequent possession. He fumbled and Carey defender Landen Kemerley took the ball 36 yards to pay dirt. The final score — the only two-point conversion in the game — gave the Blue Devils the 50-41 win.
“I love my guys,” said an emotional Western coach Ty Stevenson, who credited his seniors with the thrilling finish. “It’s a testament to them.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the ’Riders were the first team to score.
Benesh had his first of four touchdowns on a 2-yard run. Senior kicker Dalton Webb’s PAT gave the home team a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the second quarter. The 56-yard drive featured Benesh running for 18 yards and later a 25-yard catch, in which he dragged Carey defenders to the Blue Devils’ 5-yard line.
Carey scored two touchdowns late in the second quarter. In both drives, the visitors converted on fourth-down plays to keep the ball rolling. The last score before halftime happened after a conversion on 4th-and-inches at Western’s 2-yard line.
“We knew they were really good. They’re really physical. The teams that beat them obviously are really good; they’re all playing this weekend,” Stevenson said.
Western trailed 14-7 at the half.
Following a Blue Devils touchdown drive to give them a 21-7 lead with 8:34 in the third quarter, the ’Riders answered on the next drive. Wide receiver Nate Perkins stumbled after catching a pass from quarterback Jude Muenz, but stayed on his feet and ran untouched into the end zone for a 50-yard score. The two-play, 65-yard drive narrowed Carey’s lead to seven points.
As was the case in the first half, a fourth-down conversion proved fruitful for the Blue Devils in the third period. Carey kept its drive alive with a big first down on 4th-and-6 at Western’s 24. The visitors later scored a TD to make it 28-14.
The final quarter, which included 49 total points, started with Western’s Benesh going in from one yard out. After the 81-yard drive and Webb’s PAT, the ’Riders were down 28-21.
But Carey answered the call with a 51-yard scoring drive. Running back Reece Billock had his second of three running touchdowns on a 1-yard dive to expand the Blue Devils’ lead to 35-21.
Western recovered a fumble during the subsequent kickoff. Junior Cory Hipp’s 30-yard pass from Muenz completed a 70-yard drive and Carey’s lead was 35-28 with 4:13 left in the game.
The ’Riders forced the Blue Devils to punt on their next drive. Forty-eight seconds after Carey had scored, Benesh’s 8-yard TD run tied the game at 35.
Benesh ended the night with 138 yards on 16 carries and four touchdowns.
Western had only its second lead of the night with 1:37 left on the clock. Benesh galloped for a 69-yard TD run. The extra point failed. The ‘Riders had a 41-35 lead only to have Carey score 15 points in the closing seconds.
“I’m really proud of my kids. They played hard; they played great all year. We did everything we asked them to do. I’m really proud of them,” Stevenson said. “Yeah, it was a great football game.”
Carey 0 14 14 22 — 50
W. Reserve 0 7 7 27 — 41
WR — Cody Benesh 2 run (Dalton Webb kick)
C — Reece Billock 71 run (Anthony Bell kick)
C — Bryce Conti 2 pass from Ethan Beringer (Bell kick)
C — Cade Crawford 37 pass from Beringer (Bell kick)
WR — Nate Perkins 50 pass from Jude Muenz (Webb kick)
C — Connor Williams 2 run (Bell kick)
WR — Benesh 1 run (Webb kick)
C — Billock 1 run (Bell kick)
WR — Cory Hipp 30 pass from Muenz (Webb kick)
WR — Benesh 8 run (Webb kick)
WR — Benesh 69 run (kick failed)
C — Billock 5 run (Bell kick)
C — Landen Kemerley 36 fumble return (two-point conversion)