WINFIELD — Mason Gavin said he’s always seen himself as a dual threat.
Growing up, the South Carroll senior quarterback said he played fullback at the rec football level — a position that ensures plenty of contact.
His run-first nature has translated under center for the Cavaliers, and facing a first-and-goal late in the fourth quarter in a tie game Friday night against Manchester Valley, Gavin did what he does best.
With two burly offensive linemen and a lead running back, Gavin took the quarterback keeper and barreled his way into the end zone from 5 yards out to give South Carroll the lead with 4:13 left to play.
Gavin’s touchdown — one of two on the ground, three in total — was the difference on Senior Night at Parker Field for South Carroll as the Cavs held off Man Valley 29-22.
“I told Coach [Mike Kraus] I can score him the touchdown,” Gavin said. “We just plowed through and ran right over them.”
Gavin’s poise and progression from late last season to Week 1, to now, has gotten the attention of Kraus.
“I have seen [Mason] grow,” Kraus said. “He’s grown as a quarterback … When he sees things go astray, he takes control of the reigns and squares things up.”
A 32-yard field goal from Nino Torres and a Gavin 2-yard keeper — set up by an interception from Dylan O’Neill — gave South Carroll a 9-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Gavin also found success through the air, finishing 5-of-13 for 144 yards and a touchdown. Four of those passes landed in the hands of Ryan Gallagher.
The senior wide receiver raced past Man Valley’s defense and found himself all alone in the secondary for a 76-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter to give South Carroll (5-4, 3-2 in the county) a 16-14 halftime lead.
Gallagher’s 144 yards on four catches led all receivers and the connection between quarterback and receiver is “natural,” said Gavin.
“Since freshman year we’ve always just been great together and it’s a real strong connection,” he said. “We know where each other is going to be every single moment of the game.”
But for nearly every South Carroll score, Man Valley (2-7, 1-5) provided an answer.
The Mavericks scored following each of the Cavs’ first three touchdowns — and used a variety of ways to do so.
Jackson Boothby found a running lane down the left sideline and scored 85 yards on a kickoff return just before the end of the first quarter.
In a similar scenario time scenario before halftime, Dallas Engel connected with Tyler Goralski for a 16-yard touchdown strike.
Man Valley relied on the arm of Engel through the entirety of the four quarters.
The senior quarterback completed 16-of-36 passes for 152 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Brandon Yingling’s 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown, along with a two-point conversion pass from Engel to Tyler Davis tied the game at 22-22, but South Carroll had a chance to execute a game-winning drive.
The offense marched 55 yards on nine plays and took off over five minutes off the clock to take the lead.
Facing a crucial fourth-and-1 on the Mavs’ 21-yard line, Gavin’s hard count drew the defense offside, giving the Cavs a fresh set of downs.
They had no intention of even running a play.
“One-hundred percent, we weren’t going to snap the ball at all,” Gavin said. He added that the play shifted the entire momentum of the game.
Man Valley got one final chance to force overtime but SC’s defense held strong.
A sack and pressure from the Cavs’ defensive front forced a turnover on downs to secure the win.
The unit has had its ups and downs throughout the season, but Kraus said he was pleased to see them step up in a big way.
“That was huge,” Kraus said on the final defensive drive. “Our defense has not been as solid as we could be. We gave up a lot of points in the middle of the season but the last couple weeks we’ve really zeroed it in.”
After finished 2-8, 1-5 in county last season, South Carroll has more than doubled that win total — an indescribable feeling, Kraus said.
“I’m walking on the clouds,” he said. “I never would have thought that our football team would have progressed where we are today. I always had hope, but their work ethic, their belief in each other, their belief in our systems … It’s not me, it’s them, it’s all them.”
South Carroll can secure a winning season with a victory against rival Westminster next Friday.
Both sides have plenty to play for.
“That’s a big rivalry,” Kraus said. “Westminster is going to be ready, it’s their last game for seniors at their place. It’s our playoff game, that’s the way we’re going to approach this week.”
South Carroll 9 7 6 7 — 29
Manchester Valley 7 7 0 8 — 22
SC- Nino Torres 32 field goal
SC- Mason Gavin 2 run (Conversion failed)
MV- Jackson Boothby 85 kick return (Dayne Koontz kick)
SC- Ryan Gallagher 76 pass from Gavin (Torres kick)
MV- Tyler Goralski 16 pass from Dallas Engel (Koontz kick)
SC- Gallagher 25 run (Conversion failed)
MV- Brandon Yingling 5 run (Conversion good)
Latest Carroll County High School Sports
SC- Gavin 5 run (Torres kick)