By Steve Williams
The running game versus the passing game was pretty much the billing for Carter versus Karns going into their non-region matchup.
A pair of juniors would be in the spotlight – Karns running back De’Sean Bishop and Carter quarterback Chandler Wilson.
Bishop started off strong and again was a workhorse as he led the Beavers to a 48-25 homecoming win Friday night at Karns.
Bishop carried the ball 48 times for 326 yards and five touchdowns before calling it a night after coasting into the end zone on a 2-yard run with 6:02 remaining.
His other TD runs covered 1, 35, 7 and 70 yards.
Wilson had a slow start against the Karns defense. He was 1 for 8 with an interception and didn’t get going until late in the first half. But by then, Karns led 34-7.
From that point on, Wilson connected on 16 of 25 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown.
“We came out flat and got ourselves in a hole and couldn’t get out of it,” said Carter Coach Justin Pressley. “We couldn’t find an answer for No. 8 (Bishop) and we couldn’t capitalize when we had the ball.”
Pressley added that his team (1-0, 4-2) will have a short week to get ready for its big Region 2-4A game at Anderson County (2-0, 2-4) Thursday night. First place will be on the line in the Rivalry Thursday TV game.
Meanwhile, Karns Coach Brad Taylor saw a lot of positives in the Beavers’ play.
“I thought we improved tonight,” said Taylor. “We made some plays in the air and obviously De’Sean made plenty of plays on the ground.
“Defensively, we made some big plays early that allowed us to get ahead by a couple of scores. And we again made some good stops at the end that allowed us to put it away.”
Karns, which is enjoying one of its best seasons in years, is now 4-2 overall and 1-1 in region play. The Beavers will host Lenoir City (0-1, 1-4) in a Region 3-5A game Friday.
Karns recovered Carter’s opening on-side kickoff at the Hornets’ 49-yard line and wasted no time taking the lead. Bishop touched the ball on every play as the Beavers drove the distance in eight plays, with Bishop scoring from the 1. Jace Harvey’s PAT kick made it 7-0 at 8:46.
After Wilson’s first two passes fell incomplete, he was sacked for a 10-yard loss by Kareen Ellis in the Hornets’ opening possession.
Carter also went three-and-out on its second possession as running back Max Bailey was tackled for a 9-yard loss by Caleb Clifton and two more Wilson passes fell incomplete.
Bishop broke a tackle and put his hand on the ground to keep his balance in a 35-yard touchdown run that upped Karns’ lead to 13-0.
“He just keeps his legs moving at all times,” the Carter coach said about Bishop after the game. “He gives good effort and he’s a great athlete. We had a tough time with him.”
Another Wilson pass was dropped to open the Hornets’ third possession, but the Carter QB got things going with a 36-yard pass to Wyatt Galyon. Two plays later, Wilson scored on a 2-yard run and Conner Gass’ PAT kick pulled Carter within 13-7.
After Bishop’s third TD, a 7-yarder up the middle, and Walker Lockhart’s 2-point run gave Karns a 21-7 advantage early in the second quarter, junior quarterback Cassen Huffaker threw touchdown passes to Clifton and Lockhart to extend the Beavers’ advantage to 34-7.
Carter used a fast tempo offense to quickly cover 64 yards to beat the clock and score just before halftime. Bailey made a diving catch in the end zone with seven seconds to spare.
The Hornets also got the ball first in the second half and turned up the tempo to lightning fast speed. Wilson completed three of three passes and Bailey added a 20-yard run as Carter covered 65 yards in 44 seconds. Brody Blankenship’s 23-yard TD catch cut the Karns lead to 34-19.
All of a sudden, Carter was back in the game.
The Hornets threatened to pull even closer, but Wilson’s fourth down 25-yard TD pass to Galyon was nullified by a penalty and another attempt fell incomplete.
Bishop delivered the knockout blow on the next play, racing 70 yards around the right side in front of the Karns bench and fans. Harvey’s PAT kick made it 41-19 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.
Carter didn’t quit, but the game clock was on Karns’ side. Wilson completed a 17-yard pass to Kash Altom and Bailey spun off a tackler to score from the 1 with 10:48 to go to cut the deficit to 16 points (41-25).
Karns recovered Carter’s on-side kick at the 50 and Bishop carried the rock eight consecutive plays to get the game’s final TD.
Coach Taylor liked how his team reacted to the Hornets’ rally.
“They came out and made some good plays in the second half,” he said. “We stayed a little more poised and focused and were able to take care of business.”