On a rainy and cold night at Fred C. Hardke Field, the seasoned Carlisle Bison responded each time upstart Conway Christian made a move as Carlisle beat the Eagles 48-26 in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs Friday.
Carlisle jumped out to a 14-0 lead on touchdowns by Deron Ricks and Bo Weddle and a two-point conversion by Ricks on the second touchdown.
Carlisle was then driving for a third touchdown following an interception by Justice Bryant. A few plays later, Conway Christian’s Chase Kehler took the ball away from Carlisle’s Jacob Gordon and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown with 6:11 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles then recovered an onside kick but had to punt. From there, the Bison drove 55 yards in 11 plays with Bryant scoring on a 31-yard run with 1:27 left in the first half. Bryant also scored the two-point conversion to make the score 22-6.
Conway Christian scored another touchdown late in the first half, cutting Carlisle’s lead to 22-12 at halftime.
Ricks scored a touchdown on a 64-yard run early in the second half. After the Eagles cut the deficit to 30-20, Ricks scored on a 69-yard run with 7:03 left in the their quarter to make the score 36-20. The Bison pushed their lead to 42-20 on a 15-yard run by Weddle with 2:43 left in the the third quarter.
Conway Christian’s Chandler Ferrand, scored on a 10-yard run with 1:09 left in the third quarter to make the score 42-26.
Carlisle’s final touchdown came on a 7-yard run by Thomas McCallie with 6:16 left in the game.
Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree said the Eagles did a lot of things well against his team.
“They put a lot in the box against us,” he said. “I thought our offensive line adjusted well to it. It’s tough to block an 11-man front but our guys did and we had running backs who were running hard. We controlled the clock.”
Barbaree said his team can’t make turnovers like it did when they were up 14-0.
“We gave them points and it gave them a little momentum,” he said. “They found some stuff they could do against us offensively. They kept it closer than it should have been. But our guys kept fighting and playing hard.”
Barbaree said it’s the old adage of “survive and advance.”
“That’s what happened,” he said.
Ricks rushed for 243 yards on 20 carries. Weddle had 119 yards on 28 carries. McCallie had 58 yards on 11 carries. Bryant rushed for 52 yards on seven carries.
The Bison will host Rison in the quarterfinals on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.