CARMICHAELS – Ed Woods, Beth-Center’s veteran head football coach, had an interesting decision to make midway through the fourth quarter of the Bulldogs’ key Tri-County South Conference game against Carmichaels Friday night.
Beth-Center was protecting a seven-point lead and faced a fourth-and-one at its own 46-yard line. The Bulldogs’ defense had played well, holding Carmichaels to less than 100 yards of offense at that point.
Beth-Center could have opted to push Carmichaels deep into its own territory with a punt and let the defense attempt to secure a victory.
Instead, Woods chose to try for a first down. He said it wasn’t a difficult decision.
“You’ve got to have faith in your kids that they can get a first down,” Woods explained.
Sophomore running back Anthony Welsh made Woods’ decision pay huge dividends when he swept around left end on the fourth-down play and scampered 54 yards down the sideline for the key score in Beth-Center’s 28-22 victory.
It was the third touchdown of the night for Welsh (5-9, 170). He opened the scoring with a six-yard run and added a 13-yard score in the third quarter that gave B-C a 21-6 lead. Welsh finished with 152 yards on 16 carries, his 54-yard jaunt the most important.
“He’s a special back,” Woods said. “The thing is, we have several backs like that, but it was his number that was called tonight.”
Welsh’s TD run, which gave B-C (3-0, 3-0) a 28-14 lead with exactly six minutes remaining, came on a sweep and caught Carmichaels’ defense inside.
“We were expecting a sneak or something inside,” admitted Carmichaels first-year head coach Ryan Krull. “They got us. You never like to see it go for six points, but it did.”
One reason Woods opted to go for the first down in his own territory might have been result of the Bulldogs’ previous punt attempt. Carmichaels (2-1, 2-1) received a break it desperately needed only three minutes earlier, when a botched snap on a punt was recovered by the Mikes’ Tyler Aeschbacher at the B-C six-yard line.
“I was disappointed with our special teams play,” Woods said.
On the next play, tailback Brennan McMinn found the end zone on a run around right end. McMinn also added the conversion run that pulled Carmichaels to within 21-14.
Welsh’s third TD run came on the ensuing possession, but Carmichaels battled back and had a chance to win until B-C recovered an onside kickoff with less than a minute to play.
“I’m glad we won, but there is a lot of room for improvement with this football team,” Woods said. “We’re going to strive to get better, and we have to get better if we want to have success beyond the regular season.”
Carmichaels’ passing game, which had been ineffective for much of the game, finally started clicking on the Mikes’ final possession, when quarterback Brandon Lawless had five completions and pulled the Mikes to within a score on a one-yard sneak with 42 seconds left. McMinn tacked on his second conversion run.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win, but every game and every practice we’re stressing finishing to our kids, and they’re doing it,” Krull said. “They played every snap.”
Lawless completed 10 of 21 passes for 66 yards, and McMinn rushed for 71 yards.
Beth-Center took a 6-0 lead on its second possession, driving 97 yards in 12 plays. Welsh capped the drive with a six-yard run on a counter play through a gaping hole off right tackle. Welsh carried three times for 39 yards in the drive, and the Bulldogs converted three third downs, one a 23-yard pass from Gino Faieta to Jason Stay that moved the ball from the B-C six to the 29. Welsh had a 30-yard run to the Mikes’ 17.
Carmichaels pulled even at 6-6 on the ensuing possession, one that was marked by 50 yards in penalties against the Beth-Center defense. The Bulldogs were flagged twice for personal fouls following sacks of Lawless, for being offside on 2nd-and-9 and for pass interference.
Carmichaels used a three-yard sneak by Lawless to convert 4th-and-1 at the B-C four, and fullback Michael Blasinsky scored on a one-yard plunge off left guard less than two minutes into the second quarter.
The Bulldogs, who did not play last week while receiving a forfeit from Geibel, took the lead for good at 14-6 on a 17-yard pass from Faieta to tight end Tyler Beyer early in the third quarter. The duo connected again for a two-point conversion off a fake extra point. The score was set up by Welsh’s kickoff return to the Mikes’ 37 to start the half.
Faieta completed eight of 18 passes for 78 yards.
“What I liked was the fight I saw from our team,” Woods said. “We didn’t quit. It’s tough to come out and play a good Carmichaels team after not playing for two weeks. I knew it would be a good game, and we did what we had to to get a win.”