Carroll shuts down Martin run game to advance

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- Southlake Carroll created a dynasty with its explosive offense in the early 2000s.

But these aren't Todd Dodge's Dragons anymore.

If Carroll ends up winning another title in 2011, it will have its smothering defense to thank.

Case in point: Carroll shut down an Arlington Martin offense that outmuscled Euless Trinity a week ago en route to a 31-14 win on Saturday at a rain-soaked Ford Stadium.

Carroll (14-0) advances to the state semifinals for the first time under head coach Hal Wasson. The Dragons play Dallas Skyline (14-0) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Ford Stadium.

"Our defense has played tough all year," Wasson said. "I'm so thankful they have that mindset. If you're going to play this time of year you have to play with an attitude and this football team has chosen all year to play with an attitude."

Martin running back Kyle Hicks came into the game running as well as any back in the state, seemingly creating a matchup problem for a Carroll defense that struggled to defend the run at times this season.

But Carroll's defensive front relentlessly pursued Martin's ball carrier the entire game, holding the Warriors (12-2) to 166 rushing yards. Hicks ran for just 81 yards.

"We just had to come out and match their intensity and physicality because they are a very physical team," Carroll linebacker Will Davis said. "We had a great game plan coming in. We were prepared very well over the week. In certain formations we knew exactly what they were going to run so we were pretty prepared."

Martin's woes reached a pitch late in the third quarter. With Carroll leading 17-14, Hicks left the game with an ankle injury and didn't return. The loss seemed to deflate Martin on both sides of the ball.

Martin missed a field goal two plays later, and Carroll responded with a seven-play drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Kenny Hill to Sabian Holmes to put the Dragons up 24-14 with 34 seconds left in the third.

The Warriors never recovered. They fumbled on their first possession following the Holmes touchdown, and consecutive turnovers on downs effectively ended the game.

Turnovers crippled Martin in the first half as well. Carroll's offense misfired a few times in the first half with drops and overthrown passes, but the Dragons still took a 17-14 lead into the break.

That's because a Martin interception and fumble set up Carroll with short fields that it converted into touchdowns, and a huge kickoff return by Ben Sego in the first quarter led to a field goal.

Hill led Carroll's offense again with big plays through the air and on the ground. He gave the Dragons their first lead of the game with a 42-yard touchdown run to close the first quarter, and threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Holmes on fourth down in the middle of the second to give Carroll a 17-14 lead.

He finished with 68 rushing yards, 168 passing yards -- 92 going to Holmes -- and four total touchdowns.

"Kenny comes in every week ready to play," Wasson said. "Our offensive line did a good job holding up against their pressure. He executed our offense and showed a lot of toughness."