SIOUX CITY | Hunter Hope had it in the back of his mind all game long so when he had another opportunity he didn't let it get away.
On the first play of the game, Heelan quarterback Drew Olson found a wide open Hope on a wheel route out of the backfield, but he was unable to haul in the pass that looked like it could turn into a touchdown as the rain was falling.
Fast forward to the third quarter after Carroll returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a 6-0 lead. Heelan looked like it got the quick response when Saybein Clark raced 80 yards for the tying score.
But, just like it did numerous times in the first half, a penalty brought the ball back.
Hope had his team's back this time.
Two plays later the senior used hard running to rumble 49 yards down to Carroll's 30.
"That opening play was in my mind the whole game and I felt like I was playing bad so I felt I had to come up big for the team," Hope said. "I just tried finding an opening and making moves and getting up field. It worked out."
Clark, who ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 41-14 victory over East, raced 26 yards down to the 1-yard line before Hope capped it with a dive into the end zone and a 7-6 lead.
The third-ranked Crusaders would go on to win 21-6 and improve to 2-0 on the season in the first game on the new field turf at Memorial Field Friday night.
Heelan's defense forced a three-and-out after Hope's touchdown and Clark was at it again as he raced 30 yards before eventually capping the drive with another 1-yard score to make it 14-6.
"We just want to get touchdowns so it doesn't matter if it is me or (Hope) as long as we are winning," Clark said.
Clark finished with 160 yards on 26 carries and Heelan finished the game with 218 yards rushing.
The final score of the game came as Olson found Danny Heller on a 19-yard pass play in the fourth quarter.
Tanner Higgins raced 91 yards on the opening kickoff of the second half for the Tigers (1-1) only score of the game. The Heelan defense took control in the second half, limiting Carroll to just 32 total yards after the return.
"We came out really energetic and we knew what they wanted to do. Our D-line had a talk and they knew they had to control the line of scrimmage," Heelan linebacker Shyler Langley said. "They did and I am real proud of them. We have been conditioning all week and we knew they were going to try and ram it down our throat, but our conditioning came through in the end."
Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first half, but Heelan missed a couple of golden opportunities.
First was the Hope drop in the rain that ended shortly there after. Then, late in the second quarter, Clark brought in a punt at his own 24 and blazed down the right side for the touchdown. However, a personal foul on the Crusaders brought the ball back and took the points off the board.
Penalties hurt Heelan all first half as they were whistled six times for 48 yards.
"It was challenging at first but it is a game of football and anything can happen so stuff happens and you have to capitalize on the opportunities you do have," Clark said. "Once we start capitalizing on all of our opportunities that is when we can be unstoppable."
The Tigers used their ball-control offense to dominate possession in the first 24 minutes. Carroll's first drive lasted 15 plays and consumed nearly six minutes before ending in a missed 31-yard field goal.
The Crusader defense had trouble getting off the field but was aided by a Langley interception inside the Heelan 30 and a forced fumble just before the end of the second quarter.
"I am just trying to help my team anyway I can so if I can pick a ball off and get Saybein the ball I will be happy," Langley said.
Heelan was held to 29 yards rushing in the first half to go with 11 yards through the air. Carroll, by contrast, had 145 yards of total offense.
The schedule gets no easier for the Crusaders as they travel to Sergeant Bluff on Friday to take on the 10th-ranked Warriors in the district opener. Heelan has dropped two straight to SB-L, including a 10-7 contest last year.