As the rain poured and Dietrich was looking to take the lead with 1:29 left on the clock, quarterback Cody Power looked for one more magical moment for Dietrich as the Blue Devils tried to spoil Carey’s perfect regular season at Derrick Parke Memorial Field in Carey on Friday night.
With the ball on the Carey 5-yard line, Power dropped back to pass and was forced out of the pocket. He then went on a mad scramble as the Panther defense preyed on Power, forcing the Dietrich signal-caller to throw an ill-advised pass. As it squandered out of Power’s wet hands, the ball found none other than Carey junior Connor Simpson for the interception and the game-ending play, solidifying the Panther victory, 24-22.
“During a rivalry game you know it’s going to be a war,” Carey head coach Lane Kirkland said. “Offensive and defensive adjustments by both teams are going to be made and then it simply becomes a battle of will and luck. It was great to walk away with both of those in hand when the final bell sounded.”
With the win, Carey (8-0, 4-0 Sawtooth Conference) is the 8-man Sawtooth Conference champions for the 11th straight season.
In a game that was defined by guts and glory, both Carey and Dietrich (5-3, 2-2) played with the style of football that makes the 8-man game so intriguing. Dietrich jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter when junior Peyton Sneddon scored on a 7-yard score and the Blue Devils took an 8-0 lead to the second quarter.
Simpson (95 yards rushing) would put Carey on the board for the first time on a 4-yard score, and then he would later give the Panthers the lead when he scored on a goal-line run from 1-yard out. When the rain began to pour, the Panthers led 16-8.
Power (175 yards rushing) pulled the Blue Devils within two points before halftime when he went on an epic 80-yard touchdown run that began as a quarterback sneak. As Power broke through the offensive line up the middle, he found a wide-open field and it was a foot race from then on out as junior Carsn Perkes couldn’t catch up.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, as the sloppiness of the rain made for slick play. However, in the fourth quarter, Sneddon would score on a 20-yard run to give the Blue Devils the lead at 22-16.
Following Dietrich’s score, senior Chase Bennion took over. With six minutes left in the game, Bennion (92 yards rushing) put Carey on his back and propelled the Panthers to the win when he scored on a 15-yard touchdown rush. He also punched in the two-point conversion to give the Panthers the 24-22 lead.
“Chase had a great rushing game and came through for us,” Kirkland said. “I was proud of his leadership and will to get it done on the ground for Senior Night. Getting every extra point was the difference in the game.”
Before the game, Bennion and the rest of the seniors were honored for Senior Night. Those seniors were Alexis Ruiz, Layne Fiscus, Tristan Harshbarger, Ivan Carillo, Corbin Hansen and Marcus Richcreek.
The Panthers’ win was a testament to their heart. Dietrich dominated the game statistically. The Blue Devils had 409 total yards as the Panthers had their lowest yard total of the year with only 204. Simpson also was held in check as he was held to his lowest rushing total of the year with under 100 yards for the first time this season.
Where the game was won for Carey was on the defensive side, causing five Dietrich turnovers (2 fumbles, 3 interceptions). Leading the defense was Harshbarger with eight tackles. Perkes, Simpson and Riley Morey all had interceptions.
For Carey, the Panthers now turn their attention to the Idaho High School Activities Association 1AD2 8-man Milk Bowl Tournament. The Panthers pulled their first-round matchup with Timberline (3-3, 2-1 Whitepine Conference). That game is at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29, at Derrick Parke Memorial Field in Carey.