The Carlisle Bison’s hopes to returning to the Class 2A state championship game were dashed by a 49-yard run and an interception late.
Mineral Springs quarterback Kendrick Langston scored on a 49-yard run with 1:09 left as the Hornets knocked off the Bison 22-21 in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state playoffs Friday night at Fred C. Hardke Field.
Carlisle (10-2) had a chance to regain the lead, moving the ball from its 26 to the Mineral Springs 27 on passes from Chris Hart to Austin Reed, as well as a 10-yard run by Hart.
However, the season ended when Hart attempted a pass in the end zone to Reed but was intercepted by Mineral Springs’ Avanti Evans with 21 seconds left.
From there, Mineral Springs took three kneel downs to win the game.
"I was proud of our team for putting us in position to try to have a shot to win," Carlisle coach Scott Waymire said. "You’ve got to give Mineral Springs credit. They made plays when they had to. They never shut down. They kept fighting."
Mineral Springs’ go-ahead score came after the Bison had reclaimed the lead with 2:07 left. Hart had threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Justice Bryant. The two-point conversion failed, leaving Carlisle ahead at 21-16. The score was the end of a 65-yard, 10-play drive, which took over 4 minutes off the clock.
The Bison then kicked the ball short and the Hornets got it at their own 39. Three plays later, Langston scored the game-winning touchdown.
"They have a bunch of speed on the field," Waymire said of Mineral Springs. "We were trying to pooch kick it. He [Deron Ricks] didn’t get all that he wanted.
"We’re not going to give them momentum on a kickoff to try to break a long run. Plus, he’s kicking into the wind. We’re trying to put it around the 35. We still felt good about that. The bottom line is they made the play and we didn’t."
The Hornets were playing without leading rusher Rashad Williams, who was serving a one-game suspension after being ejected in his team’s win over Poyen in the second round of the playoffs.
Langston rushed for 203 yards on 29 carries. He completed only one pass for 10 yards.
"He’s hands-down their best ball player," Waymire said of Langston. "He’s the guy that gets them going and he did tonight. He had a heck of a night and we didn’t do a very good job of tackling when we had a shot and their offensive line did a good job."
Carlisle got off to a quick start in the game. After forcing a punt attempt, the Hornets fumbled the snap and the Bison got the ball at the Mineral Springs 19. Five plays later, Ricks scored on a 5-yard run with 7:48 left in the first quarter. He then kicked the extra point to give the Bison a 7-0 lead.
Mineral Springs took an 8-7 lead with 2:18 left in the first quarter on a 6-yard run by Evans. Langston scored the two-point conversion.
On Carlisle’s next possession, the Bison looked to be driving to reclaim the lead when Ricks fumbled at the Mineral Springs 31. Eric Stewart recovered the loose ball and returned it to the Hornets’ 43.
Three plays later, Langston scored on a 34-yard run with 9:07 left in the first half. Keon Hendrix added the two-point conversion to give his team a 16-7 lead.
Carlisle pulled to within one at 16-15 on its next possession. Bryant scored on a 30-yard run with 4:38 left in the first half. Hart then threw to Reed for the two-point conversion.
Bryant led the Bison with 111 yards rushing on 17 carries. Ricks had 90 yards on 20 carries.
Hart completed 5 of 12 passes for 68 yards. Bryant and Austin Reed both caught two passes while Braden Reed caught one.
The loss was the final game for nine Bison seniors — Devin St. Clair, Chris Hart, Logan Hodnett, John Reynolds, Tyler Fields, Jimmy Kolke, Chris Edwards, Clayton Fields and Hunter Howard and manager Daigan Crosson.
"It’s tough this time of year when you see the careers of players you’ve coached for six years come to an end," Waymire said. "That’s always difficult. I’ve been doing this for 14 years and I’ve never had a season end with a happy locker room."