Friday, Sept. 22 was a long day for the Paris High School football team. The Tigers took a four-hour round trip to Mount Carmel, where they sustained a 49-7 loss.
During the trip, Paris encountered a Golden Aces team that had experience, speed, athleticism and most importantly, Blayne Sisson.
Sisson, the Aces’ senior quarterback, proved to be a problem for the Tigers from the opening kick, eating up 426 yards of offense. On the ground, Sisson sliced through the Paris defense, using blinding speed and uncanny playmaking ability to tally 263 rushing yards and four touchdowns. In the air, the Tigers had more success slowing him down, but Sisson still managed to connect on nine of 24 passes for 163 yards and three scores.
Nonetheless, the Tigers fought to the end, showcasing the same grit and determination that has been evident in this year’s Paris team since week one.
The Golden Aces received the opening kickoff. Sisson wasted no time moving the chains, scurrying for a lightning-fast sixteen-yard run before connecting with a receiver downfield for another first down on the very next snap. Another long rush was called back after a Golden Aces blocker was flagged for holding. Sisson, unphased by the inconvenience, decided to finish the drive himself, finding the edge before blazing into the endzone. The PAT made the score 7-0 in favor of Mt. Carmel with 8:37 left in the quarter.
The Tigers, eager to even the odds, lined up for the kickoff, but fell victim to a surprising onside kick with an unpredictable bounce. Mt. Carmel recovered, briefly deflating the Tigers.
After sophomore Garret Rigdon was called for pass interference, the Tigers were forced to surrender even more ground to the home team. Still, Paris managed to pick up a pair of stops, forcing third and five at their 17-yard line. Here, Sisson made his presence known again, finding Jack Webb on a short route. Webb slipped a tackle before laying a punishing hit on a Tiger defender on his way to the endzone.
With the PAT, the Aces led 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. The Tigers, anticipating a tricky play from the Aces’ special teams unit, lined up appropriately for the kickoff. Drew Rogers dove on another squirrely kick, giving his team possession near their 40-yard line.
The Tigers started the drive on a positive note, moving the chains on back-to-back rushes by Ty King and Ethan Curl. Unfortunately, Paris stalled afterward, forcing Gabe Roush to punt.
From their own 20, Mt. Carmel made their way down the field, thanks in large part to a 36-yard scramble from Sisson.
Paris, determined, to change the tide of the game, made a valiant goalline stand. Mason Byrnes made an impressive stop, resulting in a third and goal for the Aces. Still, Mt. Carmel found its way into the endzone just before the end of the period, resulting in a 21-point deficit for the Tigers with 28 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Mt. Carmel scored on two more drives in the ensuing quarter. One of those touchdowns came from a seemingly effortless 60-yard rush by Sisson.
Now trailing 35-0, Paris started to settle in on both sides of the field. With 7:26 to go before the half, Rogers found Curl on a quick pass to the flat. Curl took the ball 31 yards downfield, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the Aces added to the gain. Another penalty, this time a facemask carried out against Drew Rogers, gave Paris a first and ten at the Aces’ 13-yard-line.
Still, the Tigers fell just shy of the endzone after losing yardage. Rogers made an admirable attempt to convert on fourth and long, scrambling out of the pocket and rushing for a nine-yard gain, but it was not enough.
Mt. Carmel took over on downs. Shortly after, Sisson connected with Webb once again for a massive 85-yard passing play. Maddox Hutchings made the touchdown-saving tackle deep in Tiger territory.
Paris, against all odds, held out against the Mt. Carmel tide, forcing a three-and-out and a missed field goal to end the half.
After the break, Paris went three-and-out but caught a break on the defensive end when a Mt. Carmel fumble was recovered by Carson Kollman. That play set the stage for Paris’ biggest offensive gain of the evening.
After being flushed out of the pocket, Rogers passed to a wide-open Curl in the flat. Curl turned upfield, bowling over two Golden Aces simultaneously, and sprinted 75 yards to the house for Paris’ only touchdown of the evening.
The play was a positive note for the Tigers and ignited some passion on the visitors’ bench. Still, Mt. Carmel continued to roll as the game progressed, racking up two more rushing touchdowns to extend the lead to 49-7. The Tigers showed signs of life on offense, picking up some impressive gains including an athletic catch from Karic Vitale for a first down, but Paris never again found the endzone.
After a Mt. Carmel player sustained an injury and had to be carted off the field, both teams played the remaining three minutes with their subs. After four quarters of play, The Golden Aces emerged victorious at a score of 49-7.
Rogers finished the game with an efficient 12-23 pass completion rate. He tallied 104 yards in the air and a touchdown pass.
Ethan Curl rushed nine times for 18 yards, but made his biggest contribution while receiving. The senior running back pulled in two catches for 106 yards and a score.
Karic Vitale nabbed three catches for 25 yards while Robert Wells finished the evening with three receptions for 54 yards.
Paris, now 2-3 on the year and 1-2 in Little Illini Conference play, will look to claw their way back to .500 on Friday, Sept. 29 at home against Newton.