Carver 20, Bastrop 12
NEW ORLEANS — Breaking a 6-all tie, the Carver Rams struck for two quick touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter en route to a 20-12 season-opening victory over the Bastrop Rams on Friday night at Joe Brown Stadium.
Bastrop got off to a fast start as Germany Powell's sack enabled the visiting Rams to take over at their own 46.
Quaterious Hawkins' 45-yard pass to A.J. Fenceroy was good for a first-and-goal at the 5. Still at the 5 on fourth down, the Rams converted on Hawkins' 5-yard pass to Christian Smith.
Carver tied the game 6-6 in the second quarter and grabbed its first lead, 14-6, with 8:30 remaining.
Bastrop's next possession endued abruptly with an interception, leading to a four-play, 45-yard drive for the clinching touchdown.
Desi Holmes returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the 25, setting up Fenceroy's 6-yard touchdown catch. Bastrop's try for 2 came up empty, leaving the score at 20-12 with 5:43 to play.
Carver picked up a first down on its final series, but Denterrius McHenry's sack soon forced a punt.
Regaining possession at their own 46 with 3:29 remaining, Bastrop moved the sticks to the 37 on a 9-yard pass to Fenceroy. A holding penalty would disrupt the drive and Bastrop eventually turned the ball over on downs at the 40.
After Carver went three plays and out, Bastrop began its final series with 25 seconds to travel 64 yards.
Bastrop was able to push its way to the Carver 43 before an incomplete pass and an interception on the final play of the game sealed the verdict.
For Bastrop, penalties and turnovers were the story of the game.
"When we make the playoffs, we are going to have to play down south," said Bastrop's Adrian Burnette, who made his head coaching debut Friday night. "I want our guys to be accustomed to playing in adverse situations. We have to be able to play through every situation and scenario."
Although Burnette disagreed with numerous calls throughout the contest, he stopped short of blaming the officials for the result.
"The officials did not dictate the outcome of the game," Burnette said. "I did a poor job of getting our defense in position to have opportunities to stop them defensively, and I did a poor job of putting our offense in position to score. The kids played hard, played with discipline and represented Bastrop well. I, Adrian Burnette, fell short on preparation."
A game that was billed as an offensive shootout turned into a defensive slugfest.
"Our defense played great, even when we were backed up in our own red zone," Burnette said. "I was really excited to see how hard and fast our defense played. They played with a lot of enthusiasm, which is something I want to bring back to our defense."
Phillip Jackson was responsible for two turnovers with an interception and a forced fumble and recovery to lead Bastrop defensively.
Bastrop scored on its first drive, turned the ball over on downs at the 1 on its second series and struggled the rest night.
"Offensively, we got into a couple of bad situations," Burnette said. "We had a touchdown and multiple big plays called ball."
Burnette says the game was part of the growing process.
"To be a good team and a great program, I think you have to taste the bitterness," Burnette said. "I think football and athletics as a whole are based so much on emotion. If you put yourself in every situation, when that situation comes up again, you know how to handle it. We're going to be in the situation again where we feel like the officiating is bad, the play-calling isn't very good, and we're tired and want to give up, and we're going to handle it better. I'm going to handle it a lot better, too.
"Carver is going to make the playoffs. We went toe-to-toe against a playoff team on the road. It's about the experience and the competition. It was a good lesson for us."
With Friday night's home opener against Airline coming up, Bastrop can't afford to dwell on the Carver game.
"We dropped one early," Burnette said. "Now we find out if this team can rally together, find the little things we did wrong and do them better."
Notes: Bastrop made a stopover at Tulane, Burnette's alma mater, prior to the game.
"Tulane really opened their doors for us," Burnette said. "We went through our walk-through and ate our pregame meal there. It was a good experience for our kids."