Carson pounds Hug, 50-26, to open season on right foot

Joey Thurman started the game with a 57-yard punt return that led to a score, and nearly three hours later returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.

In between that, the Carson junior scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 12 yards, respectively, to spark Carson to a 50-26 season-opening win over Hug Friday night.

It looked like Carson didn't miss a beat offensively in chalking up 297 yards total offense on just 41 snaps.

"Not at all, " said Thurman, who rushed seven times for 79 yards. "We were real explosive tonight. It was something I didn't expect."

"I was really happy with the offensive line," Carson coach Blair Roman said. "They set the tempo for the game. Last week (in the scrimmage) the offensive line didn't perform up to what they are capable of doing. They came out and worked hard."

The explosion started early, four snaps into the contest, to be exact.

Thurman took a punt at his own 35, broke a couple of tackles before being hauled down at the Hug 8. He took it in on the next play, and Casey Wolfe's PAT made it 7-0 before the partisan crowd got comfortable.

"I thought I was going to score," Thurman said. "Matt (DeMar) kind of blindsided me. He was trying to make a block and he dove right into me. On the kickoff, I was just determined (to score)."

After an exchange of punts, Carson drove 85 yards in six plays and one very big penalty to take a 14-0 lead.

Hug appeared to have stopped Carson on a third-and-four play, but a roughing the passer penalty gave Carson a first down at the 36. Colby Brown ripped off a 23-yard gain and Thurman followed with a 29-yarder and then a 12-yard scoring run.

The Hawks rebounded with an 80-yard, 12-play drive which ended in the first of three Jonathan Watson TDs and cut Carson's lead to 14-6 with 10:57 left in the half. Watson was a load all night, gaining 147 yards on 24 carries. The Hawks converted two fourth downs on the drive.

A 35-yard kick-off return by Andrew Gutierrez gave Carson great field position at its own 46.

Gutierrez swept the left side for 22 yards down to the Hug 18 on the first play. A personal foul after a short completion pushed the ball down to the 6, and three plays later Gutierrez scored on a 2-yard run. Wolfe's PAT made it 21-6 with 9:10 left in the half.

The Hawks pushed Carson's defense around again on the next drive, going from it's own 20 down to the Carson 5 in 11 plays. On first-and-goal, Jawon Smith-Bennett was sacked by Austin Shaffer for a 10-yard loss back at the 15. Kicker Christian Pelon missed badly on a 27-yard field goal attempt.

"I thought that was the key play (the sack)," Roman said. "I was proud of the defense stepping up like that."

The play was made bigger by the fact that Carson back with an 80-yard, six-play scoring drive to make it 27-6. Luke Maher caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Garrett Schafer (7-for-10, 61 yards).

Thurman was big on the drive, carrying three times for 23 yards, and he had one catch for 15 yards. Brown had a 17-yard run right before the score.

The failed drive by Hug was disturbing. The Hawks had three drives that went 10 or more plays, and ran off 82 plays compared to 41 en route to gaining 436 yards.

"We did (give up a lot of yards)," Roman said. "I'm not concerned about it (right now). We're trying o bring these young guys along through the preseason and be a solid football team by the time league starts. Hug is quite a bit better than it was last year."

Carson opened the second half with a 46-yard kick-off return down to the Hug 38. Brown scored his first varsity touchdown five plays later. Wolfe's PAT made it 34-6.

Carson was back in the end zone 76 seconds later when linebacker Sage Smith stepped in front of a Bennett pass and took it 28 yards for a score and a 41-6 lead.

"He (Bennett) was staring at me," Smith said. "I was just getting to my drop area. One of our inside linebackers was also going for the ball, and I was able to get to it."

A Wolfe field goal from 32 yards and Thurman's aforementioned 88-yard kick-off return capped Carson's scoring. Hug had two fourth-quarter score, but both were against the second and third-string defense.

"It was a good way to start the year," Roman said.


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