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Carnegie tops Cyril for crown

CYRIL  That's why you play the games. 

Not intimidated on the road against an undefeated team, Carnegie raced past No. 4 Cyril, 44-24 on Friday night to win the district title  the Wildcats' first since 2011.

"We had a great overall effort from everybody on our team. I can't say enough about them," Carnegie coach Jim Harvey said. "Of course, winning district is awesome."

Quarterback Xavier Neshakula threw for 182 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in the first half and Carnegie (7-3, 5-0 B-3) capitalized off three consecutive Cyril turnovers late in the first half and early second half to build a comfortable lead.

"It means everything to us," Carnegie senior Rhodey Mabry said, who scored two touchdowns. "We've been working hard since the last Carnegie team won it in 2011. It means a lot for the playoffs now that we have an easier road."

Neshakula hooked up with wide receiver Andrew Cano early and often as Cano hauled in 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Cano had three catches on Carnegie's first scoring drive  the last of which came on a 56-yard fly down the sideline for a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.

"Xavier and Andrew connected tonight. Andrew's just a sophomore but he's becoming our go-to guy," Harvey said. "Him and X (Xavier) have this bond now where they know what the other guy is going to do. Xavier is did what leaders do. They come into a game like this with that kind of poise."

A shootout appeared in order early on. After empty first possessions, Cyril and Carnegie scored five straight touchdowns before Carnegie seized momentum.

Joey D'Angelo, who also caught a 29-yard touchdown in the second quarter, skied for a pick  one of two interceptions thrown by Cyril quarterback Josh Garza. That set up a 15-yard touchdown pass in tight traffic to Cano, giving Carnegie a 28-16 lead and all the momentum with 39 seconds left before half.

Then Mabry, who ran for 88 yards and a touchdown, used a cutback and broke several tackles on a 53-yard touchdown run following a Brett Price fumble on the second half opening kickoff.

"I trust my line a lot. I knew if my linemen could get outside and give me a lane, I could cutback on the defense," Mabry said. "They did exactly that. I knew I was in the clear as long as I could break one or two tackles."

Mabry also scored on a 34-yard punt return touchdown after Cyril had a snap go over its head and was sandwiched on the goal line while desperately trying to launch it away.

"I saw our line get through there and the ball go over his head. Then our linemen smacked him," Mabry said. "I was able to catch the ball out of the corner of my eye and make a heads up play for my team."

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