After winning its first two football games, Carver’s junior varsity team suffered a humbling 34-20 loss to vastly-improved North Forsyth last week. Even though their hopes for an undefeated season were crushed, the loss could prove to be just what the Yellowjackets need to help them develop a sustained level of winning consistency.
Entering last week’s contest, Carver (2-1) was decimated by injuries. With six starters sidelined, Coach Derrick Sharpe was forced to call on several untested players. With so many key players missing, the Jackets struggled on both sides of the ball and North Forsyth steamrolled to a 28-0 lead with less than six minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jackets regrouped to make a game of it in the second half, but the rally fell short in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We got beat by a well-coached football team,” said Sharpe, whose team opened the season with wins over Reynolds (44-8) and Mount Tabor (34-27).
“But I’m proud of my guys and how they kept playing and kept fighting. In the long run, this loss could be a plus. Against North, we played a lot of people who otherwise would not have gotten much playing time this early in the season. That will help us depth-wise as we get to the back end of our schedule.”
For all of the first half and half of the third quarter, Carver was listless and out of sync against the Vikings. But all of that changed when the Jackets scored three times in an eight-minute stretch of the second half. Quarterback Tyeous Sharpe (coach’s son) and wide receiver Kajuan Jackson put on an offensive display that gave Carver some much-needed spark.
Here’s how the Jackets did it. Tyeous Sharpe hooked up with Jackson for a 61-yard touchdown. Carver’s special teams added another score when Jason Walker blocked a North Forsyth punt and De’Quan Napper picked up the loose ball and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown. The Jackets pulled closer on Tyeous Sharpe’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Jackson. Dvon Mitchell ran for the conversion to cut the deficit to 28-20 with 9:41 left to play in the game.
“I just wanted to come out and help us get back in it,” said Jackson, who finished with 185 receiving yards and two touchdowns. “Against North, we learned that we have to play four quarters. We can’t just turn it on in the second half and expect to win.”
North Forsyth eventually settled the matter with a quick-strike score of its own. Khylill Walker caught a short pass from Austin Blakley and turned it into a 53-yard touchdown. The Vikings slammed the door on Carver’s final scoring drive when Jermaine Jackson intercepted Sharpe’s fourth-down pass with 3:28 remaining in the contest.
“Even when we were down by four touchdowns, I never believed that the game was over for us,” said Tyeous Sharpe, a 5-feet-1 left-hander. “Mentally, we just weren’t ready to play at the start of the game. It’s like everybody was on a different page. We have to do a much better job of keeping our focus.”
For now, the schedule seems to be working in Carver’s favor. The Jackets have an open week and will resume play on Sept. 26 against Lexington. Coach Sharpe welcomes the early-season break, which will give his starters additional time to mend and rest.
“Hopefully, the time off will allow us to get back to full health,” he said. “If we’re healthy, we’re in a good position to make a run for the rest of the season.”