TD-a-Minute Falcons Thrash Erwin 40-10 - TribPapers

TD-a-Minute Falcons Thrash Erwin 40-10

Carson Dimsdale ran for a career-best 268 yards. Judah Dayton (40) and other Erwin defenders had trouble hanging onto him. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Mills River – Coach Paul Whitaker’s West Henderson Falcons (4-0) have won 54-22 at Newton Conover, 44-0 at Hendersonville, 48-6 over Polk County, and 40-10 over Clyde A. Erwin. Their victory margins were 32, 44, 42, and 30 points.

Hendersonville (1-3) lost 28-21 to visiting Mountain Heritage. HHS scored 13 points in the second quarter, to trail by merely one point at halftime. Coach Kirron Ward’s Bearcats found their footing a week earlier. They won 50-7 at East Henderson, as freshman quarterback JaRon Ward threw for four touchdowns and ran for one in the first half.

East’s homecoming last Friday was spoiled 26-6 by Owen Warhorses. OLB Isaac Schultz scored on an interception return for East (0-4). Opposing head coach Zach Gibson said that Eagle bright spots are that “they’re big up front, and the quarterback (Lex Burns) is a real tough kid.”

Ashland Palmer was crowned homecoming queen, while receiver Tanner Floyd was chosen as Mr. Eagle. Palmer plays volleyball, basketball, and softball. North Henderson (3-0) was idle.

This coming Friday, Sept. 15, NHHS hosts arch-rival West for the Henderson County championship – with both undefeated for a rare time in their series. East is at Franklin (0-3), also starting Mountain Seven play. HHS opens its Mountain Foothills slate at home against R-S Central (1-3).

Triple-Score Frenzy

West Falcons shifted into “Manuel Overdrive” to score three touchdowns in three and a half minutes in the second quarter last Friday.

“West has a great football team, a complete team,” Erwin head coach Rodney Pruett said. He noted how West suddenly exploded for a few big plays on offense, and has a relentless and suffocating defense. “We never could generate any offense. We struggled all night dealing with their pressure. Our (fast) receivers had a hard time getting away from their defenders to get open.”

West scored 20 points in each half. Early on, Erwin’s defensive pursuit contained West’s offense and made three early interceptions. “We faced adversity” well, with the rocky start on offense, Coach Whitaker told the Falcons after their win. But he praised the defense for forcing “three-and-out” to get the ball right back at pivotal times.

Erwin led 3-0 until the 4:49 mark of the second quarter. Quarterback Jude Lyda ran for two touchdowns, sandwiching Manuel’s 42-yard “pick six” interception score. The 6-foot-2 senior zoomed untouched with his field vision and long strides. Manuel totaled 93 receiving yards on five catches, including a 48-yard bomb from Lyda. His block sprung Lyda for his first TD run, off left tackle.

Manuel said, “I think that after the ‘pick six,’ we started to play way better. It was definitely a change of momentum” to score three quick times.

Resilience, Career Day

Manuel returned a punt the distance earlier. But that was among several long Falcon gains negated by penalty calls. Lyda said that “we stayed disciplined” after miscues and penalties. Dimsdale said that in huddles, Lyda helped keep the team focused on the next play and remain confident. “Jude said, We’ll get it again!’”

Lyda said that after a penalty call wiped out Dimsdale’s 31-yard run, which would have put him over 300 yards for the night. On the very next play, Dimsdale dashed 29 yards along the left side for his ninth rushing TD in 2023. He already has 50 percent more rushing TDs than his six in 2022, when he rushed for 1,087 yards. The stocky senior has matched his 7.2 yards per carry in ’22.

Dimsdale had a career-best 268 rushing yards (on 27 carries) on Friday, totaling 635 and averaging 159 rushing yards per game. His longest gain was 84 yards to the Erwin two, to set up the third quick West TD on Friday. He had gains around both ends, as usual. He noted that Erwin stacked the middle, limiting his runs there. West adjusted, having receivers block Warrior linebackers more. That helped spring Dimsdale.

His elder brother Peyton Dimsdale watched. He said that he teased Carson two days earlier that he’d never match Peyton’s best of 205 yards as a senior. That was in West’s 49-31 “You Can’t Stop Us!” upset of T.C. Roberson in 2019. West was the MAC runner-up and 9-3 overall in ‘19.

95% Completion Rate

Cade Young engineered the final two scoring drives. He threw TD passes of 25 and six yards to Manuel. Young, a promising sophomore, has completed 95 percent (19 of 20) of his passes in 2023. Both West QBs are very “capable,” Manuel said. “Cade certainly will get more time. Jude is definitely a gamer, too.”

Before the game, the entire West Henderson 2023 3A state champion baseball team was honored on Johnson Field. The squad includes four current senior football Falcons. They are pitcher/outfielder Manuel, second baseman Lyda, outfielder Jackson Lynn who is a defensive end, and big first baseman Robert Waters who helps anchor the Falcon line.