HAZEN — The Carlisle Bison avenged their only regular-season loss from last season, beating the Hazen Hornets 40-12 on Friday.
With the win, Carlisle and Des Arc are the only remaining undefeated 2A-6 conference teams. They play next week.
"We talked about all week how something good was going to happen or something bad was going to happen … it was how we handle those moments that would determine whether we could win or lose," Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree said. "We come out and fumble our first offensive snap after holding them on their first series.
"Adversity hit and our defense rose up. We calmed down and controlled the game in the first half. We had a mistake right before half and tried to give up the momentum and our quarterback [Austin Reed] went down. Everything that could go wrong, did for a second. But the level of maturity of our team stepped up. Our guys really rose the occasion and it was a big win for us."
Carlisle (7-0) led 14-0 with 3:32 left in the first half.
Bo Weddle scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run with 10:24 left in the half. Justice Bryant added the two-point conversion. Bryant then scored the Bison’s second touchdown on a 1-yard run with 3:32 left. Reed injured his knee when he was dropping back to pass on the two-point conversion attempt.
Reed injured a knee in the Bison’s win over Brinkley the prior week.
Hazen drove the ball inside the Carlisle 10 but Trenton Mosby fumbled with Carlisle’s Chance Richards recovering at the Bison 8.
Chase Brazeal took over for Reed at quarterback and the Bison picked up a first down but a pair of procedure penalties moved the ball back to the Carlisle 10.
On fourth down, Hazen blocked Cory Hart’s punt and took over at the Carlisle 6. On the final play of the half, Lucas Tenison scored on a 2-yard run to put the Hornets on the board, 14-6.
The Bison wasted no time in getting those points back when Weddle returned the second half kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, leaving the score at 20-6.
Barbaree said at halftime his team went to the dressing room and saw Reed, who was injured in the second quarter.
"He says, ‘Coach, I’m playing,’" Barbaree said of Reed. "He said, ‘I may not be able to play defense but I’ll play offense. I’m going to play.’ It was just a big emotional lift for us."
Barbaree said Brazeal had done a good job but when a "senior, knowing it’s his last time to play in a rivalry game and knowing the stakes that are on the line for a chance for a conference championship, that was an emotional lift."
Barbaree said Weddle’s return took all the air out of the Hornets.
"It provided that big emotional lift that we needed," he said.
Hazen eventually cut Carlisle’s lead to 20-12 on a 17-yard pass from Gage Johnson to Brenon Williams with 4:33 left in the third quarter.
The Bison were then forced to punt and the Hornets looked in position to possibly tie the game, moving the ball to the Carlisle 22 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
After a procedure penalty, Carlisle’s Jordan Sheets came up with two big plays on defense. He broke up a pass intended for Tenison. On the next play, Sheets sacked Johnson for a 5-yard loss to set up fourth and long. The Hornets then turned the ball over on downs.
Five plays later, Deron Ricks scored on a 10-yard run with 7:38 left in the game to give the Bison a 26-12 lead.
"Coach [Jack] Keith decided we are going to bring pressure," Barbaree said of his defensive coordinator. "Jordan has been hurt. He’s had some knee issues and not moving well but he’s a senior who has stepped up for us. He creates this big momentum swing where we get the big sack and were able to go down and score. We took away what momentum they had going. It was senior making a big play. It changed the whole game."
The Bison then forced Hazen to punt. Three plays later, Ricks scored on a 1-yard run with 5:57 left. Austin Reed then threw to his brother Braden for the two-point conversion, giving the Bison a 34-12 lead.
Hazen tried to mount a comeback but turned the ball over on downs with 4:50 left. Bryant put the icing on the cake with a 67-yard touchdown run with 3:33 left.
The Bison finished with 319 yards rushing on 45 carries. Ricks led the way with 150 yards on 16 carries. Bryant had 122 yards on 7 carries. Weddle had 41 yards on 17 carries.
Austin Reed completed 3 of 5 passes for 30 yards. Braden Reed caught two passes for 22 yards. Nick Schafer caught one pass for 8 yards.
Barbaree said his defensive line played about as well as he’s seen.
"We had a chance to give up a big play and they didn’t," he said. "They just kept fighting and doing the little things right. We just kept making plays."
The Bison host Marvell on Friday night. Game time is 7 p.m.