Entering Friday’s sectional semifinal game at Spuller Stadium, many speculated that Snider had answers for “The Becker Question.”
After all, the Panthers are notorious for the adjustments it makes when playing a team a second time during the season. The coaching staff is second to none, and Carroll quarterback Jeffrey Becker had arguably his best game of the season in Week 2 against Snider, throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
Yup, surely the Panthers had solved the puzzle. Even Blitz bought in.
Turns out, they hadn’t.
Becker was even more dynamic the second time around on Friday, making the impossible look routine in throwing for 324 yards and five touchdowns as Carroll downed Snider 42-31 to advance in Class 6A Sectional 3.
Entering Friday, the Panthers were undefeated in sectional games under Coach Kurt Tippmann (24-1).
They had not been one-and-done in the playoffs since 1999.
They were 30-3 all-time against conference foes in the postseason.
Becker didn’t care about any of it. His pocket presence, ability to prolong plays and make plays downfield on the run were on display all night. Countless times the Snider defense felt they have the sophomore dead to rights, but almost every time he would escape, biding more time for his receivers to get open.
Nowhere was that more on display than mid-third quarter on Friday. To its credit, Snider (7-3) refused to go away all night, finishing with over 500 yards of total offense. Following a Panthers score that trimmed the Chargers advantage to 28-24, Becker led the team on a drive deep into Snider territory.
Becker took the snap and immediately looked for a receiver on an out or hitch, two routes that Carroll (7-3) used to carve up the Snider defense underneath all night. With nothing open and the pocket collapsing, Becker scrambled left. He evaded a tackle, then reversed direction, then escaped another sack attempt, all the while keeping his eyes downfield. Finally, he floated a pass 28 yards into the end zone, falling into the hands of Tyler Morrison in between double coverage for a touchdown.
Later in the third, Becker would score again on a similar play, finding Mason Englert for a 33-yard touchdown to stymie another Snider comeback attempt.
For the night, Becker scored six times, adding a 1-yard sneak for good measure. The sophomore has now thrown eight of his 19 touchdown passes this season against Snider.
In order to slay a giant, one cannot be intimidated. Becker was not scared to play Snider as a sophomore in his second career start in Week 2, and he showcased even more poise Friday from that first meeting.
The expectation was that Snider would have an answer for Becker, schemes that would prevent the sophomore from shrugging off defenders with apparent ease. But Becker and the Chargers flipped the script, matching the Panthers in both strategy and execution.
A new challenge awaits in Homestead, the rival. It is only fitting that Carroll will need to push aside its undefeated nemesis to win its first sectional title since 2014.
With Becker behind center, anything is possible.
Just ask Snider.
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