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Raiders down Vikings 41-8 on Senior Night

Senior running back Tyler Smith waits for the Community defense to line back up so he can get another shot at the ball. Smith had a big night on Thursday with three touchdown, a two point conversion, 97 rushing yards, six tackles, and an interception. {Photo Courtesy of the Moore County Sports Network}

SPORTS — In 2020, there is no normal, so a Senior Night on a Thursday during the second game of the season that gets lightening delayed in the first quarter? Why not?

Despite the chaos, Moore County snagged an impressive 41-8 win against the Community Vikings in Lynchburg on August 27. It was their second win under new Raider Head Coach Kris White. The Raiders beat Cascade 15-0 at home the previous week.

On Thursday, the Vikings came into the game a clear underdog despite the early season unknowns on the Moore County side of the ball. Community, on a four game losing streak, lost big to Cornersville at home the previous week in a 36-6 shellacking.

It was a trend that would continue.

Clicking offense and unyielding defense

In the first half, the boys in Columbia blue scored on every single posession while forcing the Vikings to either punt or turn the ball over on downs. The Raiders got on the scoreboard first when Tyler Smith and Donavin Pearson blasted through the Viking defensive line creating space for the QB draw. Kyler Parker shouldered his way into the end zone for six points with 9:34 remaining on the first quarter clock.

On Community’s first possession, Viking QB Dallas Grooms tried to get his offense moving with a quarterback keeper and short runs by senior running back, CJ Rivera to set up a third and two in Raider territory. The Raider D stopped Grooms run toss to Rivera short. Then in a gutsy first quarter gamble, Viking Head Coach Chris Grooms decided to go for it on fourth down. The Vikings lined up clearly attempting to pull the Raiders offside but the disciplined Moore County defensive line didn’t bite. After a time out, the Vikings still didn’t punt. Instead, QB Grooms handed it off to Rivera who got stuffed by 250 pound, eighth grade center Aydan Blair and the Vikings handed over the ball to Moore County on the Raider side of the field.

Apropos of Senior Night, on the next series senior QB Parker threw to senior wide receiver Kaden White for a completion, setting up senior fullback Tyler Smith, who broke two tackles and made them pay for it with another six points. Senior kicker Chase Bradford added the extra point to give the Raiders a 13-0 lead with 7:09 left in the first half.

The unyielding Raider defense just would not let up. On the next Vikings series, they allowed just three yards before forcing the punt. Kaden White ran the kick all the way to the Raider endzone but officials called the play back for an illegal block in the back. After backing up 15 yards, Parker hit Dylan Scruggs midfield for a first down. Then after a no gain play, Parker handed off to Smith who spun and stopped two yards short of the end zone. The duo seemed determined to add six more and after a hand off for a loss, Smith pushed his way forward for a Raider touchdown. Bradford’s PAT added one more to give the Raiders a 20-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first.

And then the lightening came

With 3:16 left to play in the first half the winds whipped on Doug Price Field and lightening threatening in the distance. In an abundance of caution and per TSSAA rules, officials sent both teams to the locker room.

The big question coming out of the 30 minute lightening delay: Did the “additional halftime” break the Raider momentum and give the Vikings a chance to regroup? After play resumed, Tyler Smith answered with a resounding “nope” as he snagged a Grooms to Rivera pass in the drizzling rain inside the Raider 15 yard line. Brayden Cashion, now in at QB, called his own number for positive yards setting up a pass to Joshua Parks for six more Raider points. This time the Raiders went for a successful two point conversion by Smith to give Moore County a 28-0 edge.

And then the rain came

Maybe it was the prolonged, soggy game. Maybe it was the 28-0 Raider lead. Regardless, things got chippy in the second quarter as it continued to rain misty drizzle and Raider points in Lynchburg.

On the first series, Cashion connected with J. Parks on a 10 yard pass to set up Dawson White for the running touchdown with just 33 seconds off the second quarter clock. Bradford’s point after connected to give the Raiders a quick 35-0 lead.

The next Viking series came with offsetting personal fouls and a fourth and 11 punt. Afterward, Parker returned as QB and managed a first down run to the 33 yard line with the quarterback draw. After a rare play for a loss, Moore County punted for the first time in the game. On the next series, the Raider D turned up the heat. The White brothers, freshman free safety Dawson and senior strong safety Kaden, put a stop to anything beyond 10 yards of the Viking line of scrimmage while the Raider defensive line shut down the middle. Then Cashion snagged an INT with 1:10 to go in the first half.

Parker then connected with Scruggs for a 48 yard pass to set up the QB keeper for the score. However, there was a Raider flag on the play and time expired before they could get a second shot at a first half score. The teams headed back into the locker room with Moore County blanking Community 35-0.

The second half kicked off with another gutsy but unsuccessful call by Vikings Head Coach Grooms. A Community onside kick only went four yards and the Raiders took over possession. Neither team scored in the third quarter.

On the Raiders first series of the fourth quarter, Smith ran to the edge on a first down and sprinted toward the Raider pylon only to be called short of the end zone.

“We really need a pylon camera,” one of the Raider announcers snarked over the live broadcast.

Undaunted by the one yard mark short of the goal line, on the next play, Smith lowered his shoulder and eeked into the end zone for his third and final TD of the night. The PAT fell flat and the Raiders led 41-0 with 7:30 left in the game.

On their next possession, Community avoided the shutout and scored their only points of the night. The game ended with a resounding 41-8 Raider win over Community. The Raiders advanced to 2-0 and the Vikings fell to 0-2.

It was a quality win for Coach White and his 15 seniors as well as an opportunity to get some younger Raiders some valuable playing time. Freshman Keller Morley, Logan Hegwood, Tanner Parks, Will Parker, Wes Clifton, and Alex Copeland all got their jerseys dirty in the second half as Coach White substituted heavily despite the fact that Community kept the majority of their starters in.

On offense, Tyler Smith led the Raiders with 97 all purpose yards. Joshua Parks and Kaden White led the receivers with 28 yards each. Smith led in rushing yards with Kyler Parker calling his own number for 64 more. Dylan Scruggs added another 53 yards. Quarterbacks Parker and Cashion shared playing time for 74 combined passing yards.

On defense, Donavin Pearson led with 10 tackles including five solo tackles. Hayden Carter and Smith added six tackles each.

The Raiders move on to their toughest game of the 2020 season this Friday in Cornersville. Both teams are still undefeated with Moore County snagging wins against Cascade and Community at home and Cornesville managing a road win in Unionville and a home win against Eagleville. Kick off will be at 7 p.m. If you can’t travel to the game, you can listen to Joe Abraham and Jonah Deal call the game of Raider Country 95.9 and 105.1 FM, over the web on the NFS Network, or The Lynchburg Times Facebook page will post live score updates. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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