Local News

Raiders dominate Cornersville for first conference win

Raiders Kaden White (#20) and Isaiah Petty (#81) get ready to face off against Cornersville on Friday night. {Photo Credit: Riley Corder for the Moore County Sports Network}

CORNERSVILLE — An away game in an intimating stadium with a loud home field advantage against the number two Class A team in the state … one the Raiders had not beaten in the past four consecutive years. After two not difficult wins against Cascade and Community, it felt like the first real test for Head Coach Kris White and his 15 seniors deep 2020 Raiders.

But the Raiders had faced off against the Cornersville Bulldog with high expectations before and come up short.

In 2016, the Bulldogs won 39-15 in Cornersville. In 2017, the Raiders suffered a crushing 42-0 loss at home. In 2018, it was much of the same with Bulldogs blanking the Raiders 39-0. Last year, the Bulldogs marched into Raider Stadium with a 0-2 record and Moore County could just taste the upset. After leading for much of the game, the Raiders fell in the final quarter.

But these are not those Raiders.

As Moore County fans travelled the 51 minute drive west to Cornersville on Friday, they wondered could this be the year that David slays the Goliath.

Moore County hits the gas in the first half

Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The loud home crowd, the homemade noise makers, the air horn, the fireworks, the number two hype … all that didn’t matter against a smart, well-coached, deep-benched Raider team filled with play makers who came out swinging.

Moore County scored quick and scored often in the first half. The Raiders won the coin toss and in a gutsy move, elected to receive. It took them exactly six plays to score when QB Kyler Parker connected with Kaden White on a 44 yard pass for Moore County’s first six points. Chase Bradford’s PAT sailed through the uprights to give the Raiders the extra point. With nine minutes still to play in the first quarter, the Raiders led the Bulldogs 7-0.

After the score, many wondered: how will the Raider defense respond? By playing lights out, bend-but-don’t-break football … that’s how.

The Bulldogs managed several successful runs for chunk yardage and a long bomb to their tight end to get into the Raider red zone. On first and 10 short of the goal, Cornersville junior running back Cason Warner got stacked up by the Raider line for a meager one yard gain. On second and nine, the Raiders forced the Cornersville QB Jackson Farler to fumble. The Bulldogs recovered but for a loss. As a clearly fired up Raider defense lined up on third and eight, the hurried Bulldog QB passed late and it fell incomplete. Cornersville settled for a field goal.

On the very next Raider play, QB Parker called his own number, broke a Bulldog tackle, and then beat the safety to the edge to score a quick six for Moore County. Bradford’s PAT was good. The Raiders took an early 14-3 lead with 4:30 left to play in the first quarter.

The first quarter ended with the Bulldogs driving at the goal line and in the first minutes of the second quarter, they finished what they started. At the two yard line, they squeaked past the Raider defender for their first touchdown but the point after fell short. With just over 10 minutes left in the first half, the Raiders continued to lead 14-9 … and that was as close as Cornersville would ever get.

On the next set of downs, Raider QB Parker went to work. He handed off to Tyler Smith for short yardage before connecting with Brayden Cashion on a 24 yard bomb. Two plays later, Smith finished what he started and found the end zone. The PAT missed the uprights. With 9:59 to play in their second quarter, the Raiders padded their lead, 20-9.

Cornersville and Moore County then exchanged punts. On the next Bulldog series, Cornersville found rhythm on offense completing a couple of first downs. Then on a crucial third and 12, Raider defender Donavin Pearson tackled the Cornersville receiver for a first down saving stop.

After three quick Raider scores, it felt like Coach White then decided to throw his offense into neutral. Instead of quick strike plays, the Raider managed a series of slow, methodical first downs to wind down the second quarter. In the final seconds of the first half, Parker connected with Dylan Scruggs with no time remaining for six more Raider points. The two point conversion failed and the Raiders headed into the halftime locker room, leading the Cornersville Bulldogs 26-9 … and they never looked back.

Moore County beat Cornersville in the first half with offense, and sealed that lead in the second half with defense.

Moore County’s Pearson set the tone with a huge tackle on the very first play of the second half. Then, Dawson White came out of the secondary to make a touchdown saving tackle to give the Bulldogs third and one. Two plays later the Bulldogs scored but not before they’d ticked over four valuable minutes off the second half clock. With 8:30 remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs pulled within 10.

On the next Raider series, Moore County looked to punt on third and eight, but the Bulldogs got called for a late hit — gifting the Raiders with a new set of downs and the momentum. They turned the ball over on downs over the next five plays, then Pearson clobbered the Cornersville running back and forced a fumble. Moore County recovered the ball on the Bulldog 30 yard line. Two plays later, Parker connected to Scruggs for his second receiving TD of the night. It was Raider QB Parker’s fourth touchdown pass of the night. Bradford’s PAT was good and the Raider increased their lead to 33-16.

With four fingers raised high, the Raiders concentrated on grinding out the clock in the final stanza. On their first offensive series, they pieced together six plays that resulted in zero points but managed nearly six minutes off the clock. Behind three scores, time was running out for the Bulldogs.

But this is where things had gone sideways for the Raiders the previous year. As the Bulldogs scored on a deep ball from Farler to to running back Alex Hillard, many Raider fans thought, oh no, here we go again.

But these aren’t those Raiders.

With less than three minutes to go and leading by 10, the Raiders refused to relax. They recovered an on-sides kick then played smart, clocked grinding offense. The Bulldog got the ball back with 40 seconds left but it was too late. At the end of four quarters, Moore County walked away with a 32-23 win over a top rival, their first road win, their first conference win, a 3-0 record, and a little swagger.

Offensively, Raider QB Parker managed an outstanding night with with 243 passing yards and four TD passes, another 95 rushing yards, as well as rushing touchdown. Dylan Scruggs caught two touchdown passes for 12 points while Kaden White and Tyler Smith managed a touchdown each. Raider kicker Chase Bradford went three of four.

Defensively, Donavin Pearson came to play with 13 total tackles (six solos tackles), a forced fumble, and several key stops. Tyler Smith managed 11 tackles and Kaden White another 10. Ryder Morey also defended a crucial pass.

The Raiders (3-0) will travel to Forrest (2-1) this Friday for their second of four consecutive away games. The Rockets beat East Robertson 10-0 in Cross Plains in game one, lost to in Portland 20-14 in game two, and won against conference foe Eagleville at home 19-7 this past Friday night.

The game will kick off in Chapel Hill at 7 p.m. For those who plan to travel, the GPS address is 310 North Horton Parkway, Chapel Hill TN 37034. If you can’t travel to the game, it will be broadcast live on Raider Country 105.1 and 95.5 FM, on the NFHS Network, or The Lynchburg Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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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