Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — For three and a half quarters Friday night, Unioto hung right with Amanda-Clearcreek. But the very thing that helped the Shermans stay in the game ended up coming back to bite them in the end.
After forcing four turnovers in the first three quarters, the Shermans gave two right back to the Aces in the final 12 minutes … the first being a fumble that led to the eventual knockout punch.
Trailing 17-14 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth, Unioto had driven to the Aces’ 31-yard line. But on the next play, the ball hit the ground, Amanda picked it up and the tides turned. The Aces embarked on a seven-play, 66-yard touchdown drive to take a 25-14 lead.
That touchdown, a one-yard scoring plunge via quarterback Peyton Madison, was the dagger in an eventual 32-14 loss.
“We had them. We just had a couple of guys that weren’t ready for the big moment,” Carroll said. “But we have to get ready. We’ve got Waverly next week so we have to let this one go.”
After touching the ball just eight times in Week 1, Carroll looked to be back to normal.
The senior was responsible for both of the Shermans’ touchdowns, one in each half.
“I was talking to coach [Brian] Netter and he was telling me that [the coaching staff and Carroll’s teammates] don’t need the physical me, they need the mental me,” Carroll said. “They need the me that was here last year before my injury. But I’m getting better and I’m settling in.”
Amanda (2-0) struck first, and quickly, when Madison capped a three-play, 59-yard drive with a 56-yard touchdown run at the 10:38 mark in the first quarter. The Aces then went ahead 14-0 with 1:49 left, using a 10-play, 64-yard drive to do so.
The Shermans (1-1), seemingly on the ropes, then decided to play football.
With his defense forcing stop after stop, recovering two fumbles and picking off a pass in the process, Carroll cut the lead in half with 3:44 left before halftime. The tailback flanked out of the backfield, streaked down the home sideline and caught a 28-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Isaac Little.
The 14-7 score remained at halftime but changed late in the third. With momentum on its side, Unioto called Carroll’s number again. He answered.
Carroll polished off a nine-play, 73-yard scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown run to tie things with 4:11 left in the third.
“It felt great … first the receiving touchdown and then I barreled in … it felt good,” Carroll said.
Unfortunately for the Shermans, that’d be the last time they’d see the end zone.
Amanda retook the lead with a 23-yard field goal at the 1:53 mark and then forced the fatal fumble on the next Unioto drive. Up 25-14, the Aces scored late in the game to produce the night’s final count.
Carroll ended with 12 carries for 42 yards and a score alongside two catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Little tallied 17 rushes for 69 yards while completing 11-of-22 passes for 151 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Madison led Amanda, carrying the football 18 times for 162 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 8-of-16 passes for 104 yards with an interception.
Unioto now looks towards Waverly, a 49-14 winner over Zane Trace in Week 2.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Carroll said. “Our defense created four turnovers, we held [Amanda] all night long … we were right there. I’m proud of my guys. We have to practice hard. Waverly week is always a hard week for us. We want that win. We’ll be ready.”