Reggie Carroll had already rushed 28 times for 244 yards and three touchdowns. But did he have one more play in him?
The William Penn junior did, pressuring the quarterback as a defensive end and causing a fumble teammate Greg Gilles recovered to ensure the Colonials’ 21-14 victory over Concord on Saturday morning.
“How about Reggie Carroll? He’s something, isn’t he?” William Penn coach Marvin Dooley said. “He never plays defense for us, because I run him so much offensively. But anytime we get in pass situations, I know he can run off that edge. … Reggie is a special young man, and he woke us up in the second half.”
It was a critical game, as the sixth-ranked Colonials improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in Blue Hen Flight A. No. 10 Concord slipped to 3-4 and 3-2. With games against Charter of Wilmington, Glasgow and Delcastle remaining, William Penn has a solid chance to finish 7-3 and make the DIAA Division I playoffs.
“They made a couple more big plays than we did,” Concord coach George Kosanovich said. “… We both knew that this was a big game for us if we wanted to go on and play more than 10, and I don’t know of anybody who doesn’t want to play more than 10 games.”
The first half was a defensive struggle, with the biggest plays made by the Raiders. Concord’s Thomas Camper blocked William Poppe’s 31-yard field-goal attempt to keep the Colonials off the board, and the Raiders’ Patrick Crowley returned an interception 29 yards to set up the only score of the half. Six plays later, Austin Coughenour threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Davis to give Concord a 7-0 lead.
“I think guys were still asleep,” Carroll said of the 10:30 a.m. start. “This was an early game. We had to make big plays to wake people up.”
William Penn opened the third quarter with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:06 off the clock. Carroll capped it with a 10-yard burst around right end to tie the game at 7.
The Colonials’ Cole Slay intercepted a Concord pass early in the fourth quarter, and Carroll made it pay off immediately with a 67-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead. The Raiders answered, with Matt Mellette’s 3-yard plunge finishing a seven-play, 60-yard drive to tie it again with 5:41 to go.
A 21-yard gain by Carroll and a 16-yard run by Kamau Floyd moved William Penn into scoring position, but a personal foul penalty turned a fourth-and-1 at the Concord 18 into a fourth-and-16 at the 33. The Colonials converted anyway, as Deshawn Smith made a diving catch of D.J. Johnson’s pass at the 3. Carroll took it in from the 5 two plays later to put the Colonials up 21-14 with 1:37 left.
The Raiders moved to the Colonials 48 with 41.5 seconds left, but Carroll broke free and hit Coughenour as he was about to throw. The ball popped free, and Gilles pounced on it.
“It was Reggie who got the hit on the ball,” Gilles said. “When I did my spin move, I got to the ball and picked it up for my team. It clinched the game.”
The Colonials took a knee from there and came away with an important victory.
“This was a playoff game for us. That’s what we talked about all week,” Dooley said. “The thing I love most is our backs were against the wall, and we said at halftime, ‘If we’re going to win, we’re going to win as a family.’ We did it.”