VARNELL — In a game where neither team could muster much in the way of offensive firepower, a pair of special teams plays made the difference Friday night between Murray County and Coahulla Creek high schools.
For the Indians, it was a perfectly-executed punt return for a touchdown. For the Colts, it was poor execution on an attempted punt which led to another Murray County score.
Those two plays were the difference as the Indians escaped with a 15-7 victory over Coahulla Creek.
With “big” plays coming at a minimum, Murray County’s Taylor Carrell made the most of his. With the game scoreless early in the second quarter, Carrell took a Coahulla Creek punt and sold a reverse to his fellow deep back. The fake fooled the Colts and Carrell had a wall set on the Murray County sideline for an 83-yard return for a touchdown.
Carrell also had an interception on Coahulla Creek’s opening drive and then sealed the game with another interception in the waning minutes of the game.
It was a breakout performance Murray County coach Chad Brewer had been waiting on from Carrell.
“I’m real proud of Taylor Carrell tonight,” Brewer said. “I thought he played well tonight, and we need him to play like that. He really helped us win the game.”
The win was the first Region 6-3A victory in four tries for the Indians (2-4 overall). The Colts fall to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the region.
Neither Brewer nor Coahulla Creek coach Danny Wilson could complain much about their respective defensive performances. Neither team had more than 200 yards of total offense, and 80 of the Colts’ yards came on their only scoring drive of the night.
“I’m proud of our defense,” Brewer said. “They really showed up tonight. Offensively, we will get those issues fixed. We had a lot of new guys in different positions, but we made just enough plays to win the ball game.”
The loss left Wilson frustrated for his team, especially with the way his defense held the Indians in check much of the night.
“Defensively, we played well enough to win,” Wilson said. “The difference was special teams plays, and that is on me. But I couldn’t ask much more from our defense tonight, and that is very encouraging.”
After Carrell’s punt return for a score, Coahulla Creek botched a punt attempt and gave the Indians the ball back at the Colts’ 24-yard line. Quarterback Kaleb Jones connected with Brannon Nuckolls, who out-jumped the double coverage at the goalline for the score. Drew Carter hauled in the two-point conversion for a 15-0 lead.
Coahulla Creek had a fumble on its next possession before finally getting some life on offense.
Senior Titus Underwood had runs of 15, 5, 30 and 7 in a seven-play drive, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
But the Colts were stymied by the Indians’ defense the rest of the game and had just four first downs in the second half.
“They had one good drive on the night, and that was it,” Brewer said. “The way the defense played, that was the key to the game for us. We took advantage of the mistakes they made to score some points, but it was the defense that won the game.”
“They gave us a lot of plays that we couldn’t convert, but I thought we did a much better job of limiting our mistakes in the second half, but Murray County’s defense did a good job just like our defense did,” Wilson said. “We played hard throughout, but give Murray County credit. Both defenses played very well.”