Playing with reckless abandon and the courage of a riverboat gambler, the Carlyle Indians pulled off a shocker Friday night.
Junior running back Donte Nettles rushed for 146 yards and scored four touchdowns and Carlyle’s defense held the high-powered Freeburg offense in check as the Indians went on for a 40-14 Cahokia Conference win.
Converting on its first three fourth-down plays, Carlyle scored on five of its six first half possessions and had a 34-6 lead over the Midgets (1-1, 0-1) at halftime.
Senior quarterback Ryan Rakers, who thew touchddown passes of 15 yards to Nettles and 24 yards to Tyler Siever, added a 7-yard run late in the fourth to put the finishing touch on rookie head coach Chris Birkner’s first win as Indians head coach.
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The first of three fourth down coversions by the Indians came just four plays into the game when, on 4th-and-7 from the Freeburg 43 yard line, Dru Johnson took a short snap from center on a fake punt and rumbled 22-yards inside the Midgets 20-yard line.
Two plays later, Rakers connected with Nettles on a 17-yard scoring play and a 7-0 Indians lead.
“It feels great to win it (the first) game for him (Birkner). As a junior captain I’m so happy I almost want to cry,” Nettles said. “The pass (Ryan) Rakers threw was just perfect. I had a great night, but I have to give most of the credit to my offensive line.”
Birkner and the Indians, who also got a big catch froom Chris Shaw on a third-and-long situation later in the first half, said the run by Johnson was just there.
“It’s something we had worked on and we knew that if executed it properly that it would work. We figured, why not just go for it and it worked out for us,” Birkner said. “The credit goes to the kids who came out and did what we asked of them. Our defense did a great job. Coach (Rich) Mix did a gre Aat job of getting our defense ready to play.
“It feels great to win the first game as head coach. Freeburg assistant coach Andy Skaer is my cousin and we’ve been competing against each other for a long time.”
Freeburg senior Keegan Baxmeyer suffered a knee injury early in the first quarter while returning a kickoff. Midgets coach Ronnie Stuart did now know the extent of the injury.
First Quarter 9:30 left: Carlyle: Donte Nettles 17-yard pass from Ryan Rakers, Carlyle 7-0
First Quarter: 503 left: Carlyle: Nettles 5-yard run, Carlyle 13-0
First Quarter: 3:33 left Freeburg: Joe Wolf 6-yard run, Carlyle 13-6
Second quarter: 10:31 left: Carlyle: Nettles 1-yard run, Carlyle 21-6
Second quarter: 8:40 left: Carlyle: Nettles 14-yard rum. Carlyle 28-6
Second quarter: 15.8 left: Carlyle: Rakers 20-yard pass to Tyler Siever, Caryl 34-6
Fourth quarter: 9:37 left: Freeburg: Bobby Tedesco 54-yard run, Carlyle 34-14
Fourth quarter: 7:49 left: Carlyle: Rakers 7-yard run., Carlyle 40-14
Freeburg plays host to Central on Sept. 11; Carlyle plays at Red Bud on Sept. 11.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.