Carter carries Indiana to playoff-clinching win
Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas had a simple message for his team when the Indians entered the locker room at the half down by three at Hollidaysburg on Friday night.
“Coach tells me to go out there and make a play to start it up,” Indiana wideout Darrious Carter said. “What do I do? I go out and pick the ball off and take it down to the 1 and set up a score. Players make plays. That's all I got to say.”
Carter's interception lit a fire under Indiana, and the Indians outscored Hollidaysburg by 20 in the second half to pick up a 41-24 win and earn a WPIAL playoff berth.
The Indians finished the regular season 4-5 and fourth in the Greater Allegheny.
“This is a big win for us,” Zilinskas said. “It was frustrating just missing out last year. I'm real happy for our kids. It wasn't our sharpest game, but we gave Hollidaysburg a lot of opportunities and we were able to overcome all the adversity.”
Zilinskas was referring to five Indiana fumbles — three of which Hollidaysburg recovered.
Indiana fumbled two consecutive Golden Tigers punts while leading 28-24 in the third quarter, but Hollidaysburg was unable to punch in a go-ahead score. Carter sacked Hollidaysburg quarterback Josh Bickley to set up a fourth-and-17 from the Indiana 26, and Bickley's pass fell incomplete.
Earlier in the quarter, Bickley had connected with Ryan Waltz on a 38-yard touchdown on fourth down to put the Golden Tigers ahead 24-21.
Carter responded with another big play.
The 6-foot-5 Temple recruit jumped over a defender and caught a 20-yard pass from Sean Thompson with 5:21 to play in the third quarter to put Indiana ahead for good.
“All the guys stepped up in the second half,” Carter said. “We got up 14-0 in the first half and thought the game was over. It wasn't. Hollidaysburg kept coming through, but we learned we have to finish tonight.”
Hollidaysburg, despite dropping to 3-6, also will enter the WPIAL playoffs as the fifth-place team in the Greater Allegheny. Each team's opponent will be announced Monday night.
“(Carter) took over the game,” Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said. “He had an interception, touchdown catch over a couple guys and made a number of big defensive plays with their backs against the wall. He's a great football player.”
Michael Boytim is a freelance writer.