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Broken play costs Carroll on West’s OT conversion

Archbishop Carroll quarterback Russell Minor-Shaw passes to Brennan Robinson in the first quarter of the season-opening game against Seton Hall Prep. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

PHILADELPHIA >> It’s been a while since Archbishop Carroll played in a Catholic League game with some pretty high stakes. West Catholic does this most years. So it goes in high school football, that the little things make a difference.

On this Saturday afternoon, it was one little thing on one very big play. Carroll had a defensive miscommunication. West took advantage.

It occurred on the decisive two-point conversion attempt in overtime, which West converted to win 36-35 in an evenly-matched contest.

Carroll (2-1, 0-1 PCL Blue) struck first in the extra session on Raphael Manning’s three-yard run. West (3-1, 1-0) responded when Zaire Hart-Hawkins hit Julio DaSilva from 15 yards out. With the Burrs’ kicking game unreliable, they went for the win. Hart-Hawkins found tailback Jacir Savoy a few yards deep in the end zone.

There was nobody close enough to make a play on him. There was supposed to be. Carroll’s inexperience in high-stakes football showed at the most inopportune of times.

“We blew it. We absolutely blew it,” said Carroll coach Kyle Detweiler with an upbeat tone. “We want to change the culture, we want to be a winning program here, but we’re going to be going against quality opponents week in and week out. That’s what I told them after the game. (West Catholic) is a really good team.”

The Patriots were despondent postgame. The contest took nearly three hours to play. There were a lot of stoppages for cramping. There were a lot of big plays. Momentum swung and swung back.

It came down to one play. It went the other way. Now what?

“Emotionally, we’re definitely low,” senior leader Jaelen Parker said. “We know we had some plays that we could’ve made. You have to have a positive mindset, and me being a captain, I still have to corral these guys together to make sure nobody breaks off.”

Carroll was shooting for its first 3-0 start since 2010. It hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. It came ready to play against one of the PCL Blue’s finest. The Patriots led 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-6 at halftime.West dominated the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns (two on big passing plays, one on a short run set up by a Carroll fumble) in six minutes to take the lead.

It was fast, efficient and stunning.

“We definitely came out slow in that (third quarter),” Parker said. “We could’ve came out a lot faster, that’s what got to us.”

But Carroll survived the onslaught. Its defense forced a turnover on downs on two consecutive drives. The offense cashed in on the latter, tying the game midway through the fourth quarter on Russell Minor-Shaw’s 15-yard pass to Koren Butler.

The teams traded failed offensive series before a big play put West inside the Carroll five-yard line with under two minutes left. Three runs were stuffed. The ensuing field goal attempt hit the post. Overtime.

It was a journey getting there. Once the Patriots arrived, the Burrs made one more play than they did.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way they responded,” Detweiler said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way that they battled. And I told them that I loved them because we can only marinate on this one through the end of the weekend because (there are) zero weeks off in this league.”

Minor-Shaw threw two other touchdown passes — a 24-yard strike to Dan Morgan in the first quarter and a 47-yard lob to Mike Dempsey in the second. Richard Kimmel started the scoring by recovering a fumble in the end zone.

As those things were happening, Carroll was feeling that something special was brewing. But West came out of the gates in the second half on fire. The Patriots did not. So this young team will experience adversity for the first time.

How will they respond with Cardinal O’Hara looming next week? Monday’s practice will be telling.

“I can’t wait to see it,” Detweiler said. “I hope that practice is the level of intensity that we’ve been looking for because I hope that this leaves a taste in their mouth. I told them that the only thing that is going to be cathartic is going to be replacing this with a win.”

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