It’s been a season long quest for the Flora Wolves football team. End the seven-year long slump of no playoff appearances.
Last week, the Wolves became eligible for the postseason with a win against Paris. A win Friday night against Carlyle assured Coach Brian Tackitt’s team would be playing in Week 10.
The night didn’t get off to the best of starts for the Wolves. They have made it their staple to begin the game on defense and hold their opponents on their opening possession. Carlyle is a high powered offense that was scoring 33.1 points per game coming into Friday night. They were also playing for their playoff lives as they have three wins with two games to go.
The Indians made a statement on the first play from scrimmage as they completed a 46 yard pass in front of their bench to go from their 41-yard line to the Wolves’ 13-yard line.
“We knew they were a good offense. There quarterback is good and he likes to buy time and throw it up and let his athlete’s run under the ball,” Coach Tackitt said. “We scrapped our Cover-2 and went with a Cover-3 for the rest of the game.”
Carlyle got it in the end zone for a touchdown and an early 8-0 lead.
The Wolves weren’t able to get much progress on their first possession. They started out on their own 20 yard line. Trevin Smith was stopped on first down for no gain. On second down, Chris Scott threw an incomplete pass to Jordan Winka. A third down pass from Scott to Dylan Bible resulted in a 10-yard gain and a new set of downs at the 30 yard line.
The Wolves’ drive stalled and resulted in a punt by Trevor Nicholson that gave the ball to the Indians’ at their own 30-yard line.
Carlyle’s possession ended rather quickly as the Cover-3 that the Wolves employed resulted in an interception caught by Winka at the Wolves’ 40 yard line and was returned to the 47.
Carlyle’s defense prevented the Wolves from making much progress. A run by Smith and a completion from Scott to Winka each resulted in one yard gains. A three yard loss by Winka on 3rd and 8 brought in Nicholson for another punt. There was some frustration in Nicholson’s kick as he had one of his longest punts of the season that ended up in Carlyle’s end zone for a touchback.
Starting out at the 20 didn’t equal success for Carlyle. Colton Durre stalled out the drive with a sack on second down that pushed Carlyle back four yards. A seven yard gain on third down wasn’t enough and Carlyle had to punt.
Scott connected with Mason Armstrong for a six yard pickup on second down and then the drive stalled as the next two plays resulted in a loss of a yard and the Wolves turned the ball over.
Starting near midfield, the Indians quickly with a completion of 26 yards and a rush for 13 that got them into the red zone at the 15 yard line. After a loss of a yard on first down, the Indians completed a 16 yard touchdown pass that put them up 16-0 after the two point conversion at the end of the first quarter.
A short kickoff put the Wolves in good field position as Bible picked up the squib kick at the 40 and returned it five yards to the 45. From there, the Wolves gave the ball to Smith for the next five plays and he picked up a total of 24 yards and a first down.
On 3rd and 3, the Wolves turned to Armstrong to try to get the first down. He picked up eight yard to the 23 yard line.
After two rushes that resulted in no gain and an incomplete pass on third down, the Wolves were in four down territory. Scott kept the ball and picked enough yards for the first down and more. He ended up in the end zone for the first touchdown of the night for the Wolves. The two-point conversion cut Carlyle’s lead in half at 16-8.
Later in the quarter the Wolves were pinned at their own 10 yard line after a punt. After a three yard gain by Smith, the Wolves went to the air. Scott completed a 21 yard pass to Winka and found Armstrong for a 25 yard gain that got the Wolves into Carlyle territory.
Scott got the ball down to the 12 yard line with a gain of 29 yards on the ground and Armstrong finished off the drive with a nine yard pick up that got the Wolves within two points at 16-14 at the half.
“We thought they were getting tired at the end of the half so we talked about just keeping with the ground game,” Coach Tackitt said. “It was a little bit difficult in the first half but we thought that if we just kept with it, it would wear them down.”
Both team stalled on their first possession of the second half. After a punt by Carlyle, the Wolves started at their own 18 yard line. Scott got them out of the shadow of the end zone with a gains of two and 15 on the first two plays of the possession, but a holding penalty pushed them back for a first and 20 situation.
On 3rd and 18, Scott got the Wolves a first down when he connected with Armstrong for a 22 yard pick near midfield. The Wolves continued to move the ball against a Carlyle defense that was beginning to wear down and Armstrong busted through the line from five yards out for a touchdown to give the Wolves their first lead of the game at 20-16.
Late in the quarter the Wolves’ defense continued to hold down Carlyle’s offense and forced a punt that Armstrong returned 19 yards to the Indians’ 36 yard line.
With a short field in front of them the Wolves didn’t need too many plays to get to the end zone but a holding penalty pushed the Wolves back to the 30 yard line. Armstrong gained 16 and Smith picked up 14 for the final score of the game. The Wolves increased their lead to 12 points with a two point conversion from Scott to Ryan Anderson and a 28-16 lead.
Seeing their season slipping away from them, the Indians got a little frustrated at the end of the game and were trying to start rough play but the Wolves kept their cool and the penalties set the Wolves up for what could have been an easy score, but the Wolves ran one play and then went into Victory Formation to finish off their sixth win of the season and solidify their spot in the playoffs with the 28-16 win. For Carlyle, it was their fifth loss of the season and eliminated them from playoff consideration.
“It was a big night for Carlyle. If they win, they have a team next week that they have already beaten and that’s five and they would be eligible,” Coach Tackitt said. “When it came to a head at the end, I thought our kids did a nice job. They were trying to get back.”
Carlyle was hit with a Block in a Back penalty and three Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties that moved the ball from midfield to the 19 yard line.
This Friday night is the regular season finale for the Wolves as Red Hill comes to town.
Last year, the Wolves had a chance at the playoffs when they went to Red Hill with a 4-4 record and the Salukis spoiled the chances with a win over the Wolves. Now it’s the Wolves’ turn to return the favor. Red Hill has a 4-4 record after their 46-20 win over Lawrenceville.
“They’re going to come into our place trying to get their fifth win, just like we did last year,” Coach Tackitt said. “At the same time, we can’t just lay down because we are already there. We’re playing for a home playoff game.”
Flora 28, Carlyle 16
Passing: Scott 6-13 83 yards
Rushing: Smith 21 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD; Scott 21 carries, 149 yards, 1 TD; Winka 2 carries, -13 yards; Armstrong 13 carries, 89 yards, 2 TD; Nicholson 1 carry, seven yards.
Receiving: Bible 1 rec, nine yards; Winka 2 rec, 23 yards; Armstrong 3 rec, 51 yards; Anderson 1 rec, three yards, 1 2PAT.
Defense: Goldstein one solo; Winka one solo, two INT; Scott three solos; Nicholson five solos, two assists, Anderson five solos, one assist; Hout four solos, five assists; J. Smith one solo; Durre eight solos, one assist, one sack; Armstrong two solos, one assist; J. Pearce one solo, three assists; Fritch one solo; T. Smith three solos, A. Pearce one solo, Henson, three solos, one assist, two sacks.