Written by Corbett Smith
Carroll hangs on to top Keller Central, claim 12th straight playoff spot
KELLER — It wasn’t pretty.
But when Southlake Carroll needed a score late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Kenny Hill came through.
Hill converted a fourth-and-1 play on the Keller Central 46-yard line with four minutes remaining, then scored on a 37-yard touchdown run two plays later, to seal a 24-21 victory Thursday over Keller Central.
The win clinched a playoff berth for Carroll (8-0, 5-0 in District 7-5A) for the 12th straight season.
“I’m glad they are putting it in my hands,” Hill said. “I want the ball at the end of the game.”
Hill’s late TD run gave Carroll a two-score lead. Central got a late touchdown pass from Tanner Tausch to Zack Sanchez with 1:02 remaining but couldn’t recover the subsequent onside kick.
Central (5-2, 3-2) would rue its missed chances. It got the ball inside the 21-yard line — but failed to score — on four occasions.
Central coach Bart Helsley only once called on his kicker, who missed a 32-yard attempt.
“When you are playing a real good football team, and get down in the red zone, you’ve to find a way to get into the end zone,” Helsley said.
Central intercepted Hill’s pass on the first play of the game, driving the ball to the Carroll 12 before the drive stalled on a personal foul.
It was the first of many failures deep in Carroll territory. A pass on fourth and 22 to a double-covered Sanchez fell incomplete.
Carroll immediately took advantage, with Hill hitting Sabian Holmes on a busted play. Hill scrambled to pick up a bad snap, then found Holmes for a 58-yard score.
Carroll tacked on a 25-yard field goal by Drew Brown on the next drive. That score was set up by a 58-yard punt return by Tanner Jacobson.
Central — looking shell-shocked — fumbled on the next drive. Hill then threw a touchdown pass on the following play, a 21-yarder to Peyton Williams that gave Carroll a 17-point lead with 3:23 remaining in the first quarter.
But as it did against Keller Fossil Ridge and Keller, Carroll let Central hang around.
A 3-yard run by Sanchez with 10:19 remaining in the fourth quarter closed Central’s deficit to 17-14, and Carroll fumbled on its next play from scrimmage.
Central didn’t capitalize, missing its lone field-goal attempt.