CARSON CITY — The Carson defense came up big Friday in the Senators’ Sierra League opener, a 17-14 win over Damonte Ranch.
After allowing a Damonte Ranch touchdown on the first possession of the game, the Senators (5-1 overall, 1-0 Sierra) slammed the door shut. The Mustangs (2-4, 0-1) didn’t find the end zone again until 55 seconds left in the game.
But the Mustangs had their chances. The Damonte defense came up with two turnovers and kept the game close, with Sam Banghart’s 1-yard touchdown run cutting the Carson lead to 17-14 with under a minute to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Damonte’s onside kick squirted through the first line of Carson players and for a moment — as both sides piled on — it appeared the Mustangs might have a chance. But as the players were peeled off, the last one left was a Carson player with the ball.
“They got some yards in between the 20s a little bit, but honestly, I felt like we really played well defensively,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “I thought our pass rush came tonight. We had a nice blitz package against these guys that I thought helped us. I thought (Justin) Tschetter was all over the field.”
Three times in the first half, Damonte Ranch started drives inside Carson territory and twice the Senators’ defense came up with turnovers. Carson held the Mustangs to under 300 yards of total offense and just 12-of-31 on pass attempts.
The Carson defense also produced two turnovers-on-downs, and none bigger than Ikela Lewis’ pass breakup late in the fourth quarter to keep Carson’s lead at 10.
“We’ve been scouting number seven (Damonte’s Elijah Sapico), who is a stud receiver; for four years, we’ve been playing him and he’s an excellent receiver,” Lewis said. “We knew on a play like that, that’s what they were going to have to do. We manned up and just hoped for the best, hoped for the best athletic ability and it worked out. “
While Sapico was unable to come down with the ball on that play, the Damonte Ranch senior was a headache all night for the Carson secondary, as he hauled in eight catches for 130 yards.
“We just really performed well,” Carson linebacker Tschetter said. “We let up a few big plays and our coach talked to us about it and we adjusted to it. We stepped up to it. … We’re not planning on losing in league at all. Our seniors have never lost a league game in their whole (lives) and we’re not planning on losing.”