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END OF THE ROAD

Cascade's season ends at Lewis Co.

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HOHENWALD — A handful of untimely mistakes and a valiant effort by Lewis County’s Blake Carroll was more than the Cascade Champions were able to overcome in the first round of the TSSAA state playoffs on Friday night.
As a team, the Lewis County Panthers (8-3) totaled just 209 yards of offense, but Carroll accounted for 155 of them and three touchdowns to his credit as the Champions (8-3) saw their season come to a close in a 36-18 loss in Hoenwald. 
From the first snap, it was clear Lewis County had a mission to not allow Cascade’s Ryan Inmon to be the spark plug for the Champion offense.
“In the first half, we moved the ball some and didn’t finish drives. Everybody game plans to stop Ryan. He’s been our bell cow all year. They’re a good ball team with good tradition and a good coach—they had a good game plan tonight,” Cascade coach Jake Tyre said. 
The Panthers wasted little time seizing the momentum.
After the game’s opening kickoff set the Panthers up on their own 48-yard line, Lewis County needed just three plays before Carroll found a crease and streaked 32 yards for his first touchdown on the night.
After back-to-back offsides penalties against Cascade, the Panthers opted to go for the 2-point conversion from the half-yard line.
Despite a Panther fumble, it was quarterback Bryson McDonald who fell on the loose ball in the end zone to put the home team up 8-0 just 1:56 off the clock. 
Cascade responded in short order with a drive that spanned 11 plays and took 6:22 off the clock.
On fourth down from the Panthers’ 4-yard line, Inmon dropped back for a pass, but saw the ball deflected at the line and intercepted by Lewis County’s Lincoln Brewer with 3:34 left in the opening frame. 
Following the turnover, Cascade’s defense answered the call and forced a three and out, allowing Cascade to take possession following the Panthers’ punt in plus territory.
After starting on the Lewis County 39-yard line, Cascade senior Elijah Arnold lined up on the goal line and scored on a quarterback sneak to pull the Champs within two, following a missed 2-point conversion attempt. 
Lewis County went on to score two touchdowns in as many plays from scrimmage to essentially snuff out any momentum by the early Cascade score.
After a kickoff return set Lewis County up at the 41-yard line, Carroll again struck a big blow for the Champs when he rattled loose on a 59-yard touchdown run, just 21 seconds after Arnold’s score for Cascade.
On the next Cascade drive, Cascade was forced to punt from its own 29-yard line, but Lewis County came up with a block which set up the Panthers on the 10-yard line.
For the third time in the first quarter, Carroll again found pay dirt, this time coming on a 10-yard strike and with the successful kick after, Lewis County led, 22-6, with 7:42 left in the half. 
Lewis County ran just 11 plays in the first half and totaled 129 yards. Of those 11 plays, Carroll carried the ball seven times for 117 yards and three scores.
But after Cascade was forced to punt on its previous drive, the Champions established perhaps their best drive of the night—a 10-play scoring drive that spanned 65 yards.
With the run game struggling to find holes in the Lewis County defense, it was Inmon’s effectiveness through the air that allowed Cascade to twice convert on third down before Inmon connected with Damien Byford on a 27-yard touchdown pass to pull the Champs within 10. 
Momentum nearly shifted toward the Champs’ favor that would have allowed Cascade to further cut into the Lewis County lead after Carroll was tackled in the backfield for a 12-yard loss and fumbled the ball back into Cascade hands with 1:51 left in the second quarter.
While able to move to the red zone, Cascade attempted a fake field goal with five seconds left, but the run was stopped short of the first down marker and Lewis County avoided the potential momentum shift before the half.
Although able to show signs of life late in the first half, Cascade’s offense struggled to move the ball in the third quarter and was forced to punt away its first two possessions of the third quarter. 
Defensively, Cascade was able to keep Carroll contained and didn’t allow a score in the third quarter.
It wasn’t until Cascade went back to the pass game that the Champs were able to press the ball deep into Panther territory.
After forcing a punt with 2:12 left in the third, Cascade again pushed inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line and on third and two from the 8-yard line, Inmon attempted a pass to the corner of the end zone, but saw the pass picked off by Lewis County’s Christian Casey and returned 99 yards to effectively end Cascade’s chance at mounting a comeback. 
Lewis County added a final exclamation point when McDonald connected with Maxwell Darefsky on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 4:18 left in the game.
Cascade managed another touchdown late in the fourth when Inmon connected with sophomore Hayden Dowell on a 16-yard strike for the final score of the night. 
Carroll averaged nearly 12 yards per carry against Cascade. Lewis County attempted just two passes all night.
“He (Carroll) is a good ball player. He’s been battling injury all year. I think he’s finally healthy. He’s a Mr. Football finalist if he’s healthy all year. It’s one of those things where he got the best of us tonight,” Tyre said.
Cascade, while struggling to finish drives, moved the ball well against Lewis County via a balanced offense.
The Champs ran the ball 37 times for 113 yards and were led by Inmon’s 77 yards on 15 carries.
He also was effective in the pass game, having completed 12-of-23 attempts for 175 yards and two touchdowns. 
Cascade totaled 288 yards of offense against Lewis County, out-gaining the Panthers by 80 yards. 
Friday’s loss marks the end of what’s been a season that shows Cascade is on the upward trajectory from a program’s standpoint.
It also marked the final time five seniors would suit up for the Champions. 
“These five seniors did an excellent job, sticking with it and playing football. I mean 8-3 from where we were a few years ago is pretty good. It’s not where we want to be, but we’re building it the right way,” Tyre said.
While losing five key players who have helped transform Cascade from an 0-10 season just a few short years ago to a team vying for a region title and back-to-back playoff berths, Tyre says the program is not only healthy from a numbers perspective, but also from an experience perspective as well.
“We started a lot of sophomores tonight, some freshmen and juniors. We’re very underclassmen heavy. We just have to have a good offseason and get back to where we want to be,” he said.
Cascade closes the season with an 8-3 overall record. 
 
Cascade 0  12  0   6 — 18
Lewis Co. 8  14  0 14 — 36
 
First Quarter 
LC — Blake Carroll 32 run, (Bryson McDonald 2pt. fumble recovery), 10:04. 
Second Quarter 
C — Elijah Arnold 1 run, (2pt. run failed), 10:35. 
LC — Carroll 59 run, (Carroll kick), 10:14. 
LC — Carroll 10 run, (Carroll kick), 7:42. 
C — Damien Byford 27 pass from Ryan Inmon, (2pt. Run failed), 2:11. 
Fourth Quarter 
LC — Christian Casey 99 interception return, (Carroll kick), 9:48. 
LC — Maxwell Darefsky 16 pass from McDonald, (Carroll kick) 4:18. 
C — Hayden Dowell 21 pass from Inmon, (2pt. run failed), 1:18. 

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