Defense! Defense! Defense!
That was the name of the game Friday night as the visiting DeSoto Thunderbirds held off the late charging Carroll Academy Rebels, 14-12 in the season opener for both teams.

Defense! Defense! Defense!

That was the name of the game Friday night as the visiting DeSoto Thunderbirds held off the late charging Carroll Academy Rebels, 14-12 in the season opener for both teams.

Just 1:05 into the second half, DeSoto’s Cade Killion scooped up the loose football and waltzed 50 yards for the go-ahead score for the Thunderbirds. It was a lead they would never relinquish.

Actually, it was Killion’s precision 2-point conversion pass to Ryan Self that sealed the Rebels’ fate early in the third quarter.

Carroll Academy drew first blood. At the 8:52 mark of the opening quarter, Rebel running back Jake Liddell raced 10 yards up the sidelines to put Carroll Academy on top 6-0. A poor DeSoto punt that gave the Rebels the ball at the DeSoto 35 helped set up the Rebels’ touchdown drive. Liddell put himself in position to score with a 25-yard run just prior to the TD jaunt.

The opening drive covered 35 yards in just 2 plays.

From that point on, the DeSoto defense settled down, allowing a couple of big plays along the way. They also committed 4 penalties that gave the Rebels’ offense new life with a fresh set of downs.

Thunderbird Head Coach Bill Beck has to be worried just a little about his offense, which managed just one successful offensive drive during the 48-minute contest.

Dalton Reyna set up the DeSoto touchdown with a 45-yard run from scrimmage. Then, with 1:02 remaining to be played in the opening quarter, Self ran the ball in from five yards out.

The 2-point conversion failed leaving the game knotted at 6-6. The contest would remain scoreless the remainder of the first half.

Carroll Academy was unable to put any sustained drives together until late in the final quarter. With 2:24 to play, Liddell scored his second TD of the night when he outraced the Thunderbird defenders 28 yards.

Once again, the DeSoto defense rose to the occasion, stopping running back Bubba Porter just inches short of the goal line on a critical 2-point conversion attempt.

DeSoto was able to control the ball the remainder of the contest.

It was a fairly mistake-free contest for an opening night. Both teams were showered with penalties but there were only two turnovers on the night both by the Rebels. The first was the costly give-away that resulted in Killion’s 50-yard run. On the following possession, Carroll Academy coughed up the ball again. This time, DeSoto’s Brock Self fell on the loose pigskin.

The Thunderbirds (1-0) return to Sam Howe Field this Friday night for their home opener against Deer Creek Academy. The Warriors are coming off a 32-16 opening night victory over Lee Academy.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.