By ANDREW WILLIAMS
CAREY — Upper Sandusky drew first blood Friday night when Troy Landrum scampered 76 yards for a touchdown a little more than four minutes into the season opener against rival Carey at C.D. Wentling Field.
But like a seasoned team with a winning tradition, the Blue Devils showed no signs of panic.
On the back of senior running back Bryan Powers and the arm of senior quarterback Dylan Noon, Carey answered, and answered and answered again as the Blue Devils erased the early deficit to come away with a decisive 35-14 nonconference victory.
“It’s a lot better than the last two years,” Carey coach Todd Worst said after his team was beaten by Upper Sandusky to open the season in 2012 and 2013. “I’d rather start 1-0 than 0-1.”
Getting to 1-0 hardly looked like a sure thing early on, though, especially after Landrum’s score put the Rams up 8-0.
The Blue Devils mustered just 21 yards rushing and 18 passing in three drives through the first quarter.
But Powers’ 31-yard punt return set up Carey at Upper Sandusky’s 16-yard line with 9:08 to play in the first half and Worst stuck with the hot hand.
Powers carried the ball on all three plays of the drive and punched it in from two yards out to get the Blue Devils on the board.
The teams traded possessions before a long snap sailed over punter Hunter Luikart’s head and set Carey up with great field position at the Rams’ 29-yard line with 2:47 left before halftime.
Noon found Jared Wentling down the sideline two plays later for a 29-yard scoring strike and Powers added the two-point conversion to give Carey its first lead of the game at 14-6.
Despite a better showing from his offense in the second quarter, Worst challenged his offensive line at halftime to give better effort or he would find somebody who would. And with four new starters along the front, the message was clear.
“Going into halftime I was just hoping to finish one point ahead,” Worst said. “Upper did a nice job running the ball on us. We talked about fixing some stuff and definitely doing a little better on our offensive line. That was our emphasis.”
The intermission did nothing to slow down Powers or the Blue Devils.
After a failed onside kick from Upper Sandusky to start the half, Powers took an option pitch from Noon around left end 52 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
The Rams went three-and-out on their first possession and Carey struck again as Powers plunged in from five yards out for his third TD of the contest with 8:21 to go in the third quarter and Noon’s pass to Nolan Roszman added the two-point conversion to put the Blue Devils ahead 28-8.
“We were misaligned two times in a row and it cost us two touchdowns,” Upper Sandusky coach Chris Rodriguez said. “I felt we were in the game all the way up until then. It was a good game. We’re a young team, we made young mistakes.”
Noon hit a wide-open Zach Boes for a 26-yard score with 2:52 to play in the third and Satchel Strahm’s extra point was good to complete a 35-0 run by the Blue Devils in slightly more than 17 minutes of game action.
Landrum, who finished with 78 yards on 10 carries, found the end zone from four yards out with 3:59 to play to complete the scoring.
While the Rams recorded runs of 76, 44 and 53 in the game, they finished with just 169 yards on 46 rushes to average less than 3.7 yards per carry. Seth Frey was 3 of 11 for 62 yards through the air and the team totaled 231 yards of offense.
“I think we’ve got a total of four kids that have seen any kind of playing time on Friday nights and this was their first game,” Rodriguez said. “To play against a team like that, that’s a very good Carey football team. We battled for a half and we just came out on the short end.”
Noon performed adequately in his first varsity start under center, completing 6 of 11 for 118 yards with two TDs and an interception. He also rushed eight times for 27 yards.
Powers rushed nine times for 91 yards, had one reception for 18 yards and returned three punts for 49 yards. While his statistics weren’t overly impressive, his contributions on both side of the ball and their timing could not be overstated. It may well have been the difference in the game.
“Bryan’s a pretty dynamic player whether you throw him the ball or whether you pitch it to him or hand it to him,” Worst said. “We know what he’s going to bring. We know what he’s capable of. The question is can we get him in the right place at the right time. I’m glad he was playing on our team tonight.”
Upper Sandusky 8 0 0 6 — 14
Carey 0 14 21 0 — 35
US — Landrum 76 run (Landrum run)
Car — Powers 2 run (Run failed)
Car — J. Wentling 29 pass from Noon (Powers run)
Car — Powers 52 run (kick failed)
Car — Powers 5 run (Roszman pass from Noon)
Car — Boes 26 pass from Noon (Strahm kick)
US — Landrum 4 run (kick failed)
Upper Sandusky Carey
First Downs 11 12
Rushes-yards 46-169 28-151
Passing Yards 62 118
Comp-Att-Int 3-11-0 6-11-1
Punts-Avg. 5-36.8 3-32
Fumbles-Lost 5-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 3-20 2-10
rushing — (US) Landrum 10-78; Holloway 4-56; Pack 9-35; Frey 22-19; Luikart 1-(-19). (Car) Powers 9-91; Noon 8-27; Racheter 2-15; D. Wentling 2-8; Brodman 2-6; Nordyke 5-4.
passing — (US) Frey 3-11-62. (Car) Noon 6-11-118.
receiving — (US) Luikart 2-62; Holloway 1-0. (Car) J. Wentling 2-57; Boes 2-39; Powers 1-18; Racheter 1-4.
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