FORT WAYNE — Carroll and Snider’s defenses were on top of the ball all night, but the Panthers were there when it mattered most.
With three and a half minutes left in the game, the Chargers were in position to tie it up 21-21 for a chance to beat Snider for the second time in program history. After a 26-yard touchdown reception by Layton Mitchell, Carroll was within one point of Snider before the Panthers put it away by blocking the ensuing extra point.
“It’s no fault or blame to anyone that blows an assignment or turns the ball over, because everyone played hard, but we’ve got to capitalize on every situation and we did not do that tonight,” Carroll Head Coach Doug Dinan said.
Friday’s game was nip and tuck down to the last minutes, and Carroll quarterback Jeff Becker made sure every red-zone pass counted. The sophomore Charger threw three touchdown passes on the night, amassing 244 yards in the air.
Becker put the first points on the board with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell with just over five minutes left in the first quarter. Snider’s Jon Barnes responded in the Panthers’ next drive, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Derrick to tie it up before both teams’ offenses saw a silent second quarter.
Snider took its first lead of the game with a 53-yard completion to Dillon Duff, but Becker and Mitchell connected once again — this time for a 27-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Panthers got to work early in the fourth quarter, as Barnes threw a quick 3-yard pass to Jermaine Wells after an onslaught of runs down the field. Carroll’s next drive resulted in a fumble within the 20-yard line before the Chargers forced a punt for one last shot at overtime. The team’s final drive of the night, which resulted in Mitchell’s third touchdown, covered 73 yards in 7 plays.
“We had opportunities to make plays and we didn’t capitalize on every situation,” Dinan said. “We’ve got to make stops on the defensive side and make plays on the offensive side. We can’t turn it over.”
Mitchell collected 95 yards in 5 out of 10 receptions to lead Carroll’s receiver corps, and Becker led the run game with 132 rushing yards on the night. Becker’s longest pass was a 34-yard completion to Mason Englert. He completed 17 of his 29 pass attempts.
Barnes threw for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns on 11-of-19 passing. Duff had 80 yards receiving for Snider, and running back Chance Collier rushed for 115 yards on the night.
Carroll had 427 total yards on offense, compared to Snider’s 406.
Lincoln Lantz led the Chargers’ defense with 10 of the team’s 47 tackles.
“We had a coverage that got beat, we had some missed tackles that went for touchdowns, and I still believe and love and firmly think that our kids playing on the defensive side are playing as hard as they can, and they’re committed to everything that we’ve coached them to do,” Dinan said. “What it boiled down to is they made plays and we didn’t.”
The Chargers return home on Friday to host North Side.
“The focus is always going to be do your job, play your assignment, be physical and play fast on the field,” Dinan said. “Even though we did that to some degree tonight, we didn’t do it well enough. We’re going to contend for a conference championship, but we’ve got to elevate our play for another week.”