Raiders snag 41-24 homecoming win over 5A Franklin County

Raider Landon Smith makes a big stop on Franklin County’s Erik Jones for no gain to kick off the second quarter. The play helped Moore County hold the Rebels to a field goal. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Football coaches hate homecoming week. It’s easy for players to get distracted and run down. That’s why athletic directors often look for a cupcake game to schedule … but not this year.

On Friday in Lynchburg, the gritty, won’t stop, can’t stop Raiders faced off with the Class 5A Franklin County Rebels and handed them a 41-24 loss.

It was a hard-nosed, physical, leave-it-all-on-the-field kind of game — one that is now part of Raider lore.

Moore County came into the game fresh off a 40-0 thrashing over Wayne County in Waynesboro. In that game, Dawson White, Logan Hegwood, Alex Copeland, and Will Parker combined for 40 unanswered points. The staunch Raider defense managed 91 total tackles and kept the Wildcats out of the end zone all night. {To read our complete coverage of that game, click this link.}

Franklin County came into the game fresh off a narrow 17-16 district win at 5A rival Tullahoma. In that game, the Rebels scored the go-ahead touchdown with one minute left to play when senior running back Eric Jones went up the middle on fourth down. A Loius Arellano extra point gave them the win.

Raiders go up 14-0 in the first quarter

Friday night’s game started as defensive stand off with both teams going three and out on their first possession. On their second drive, Moore County drew first blood when QB Dawson White threw a jump pass to Eli Brown in the end zone. A first down pass to Will Parker and a first down run by Wes Clifton set up the play. The PAT failed, so with 5:40 to play in the first the Raiders led 6-0.

On the next Rebel series, Raider defenders Aydan Blair, Landon Smith, and Eli Brown made quality stops that forced a Rebel three and out.

With 1:10 to play in the first quarter, QB White then hit Matthew White in the end zone for a wide open Raider touchdown. The play took just 38 seconds and gave Moore County a 14-0 lead.

The first quarter ended with the Rebels driving near the 43 yard line.

Rebels pull within four at the half

The Rebels finished the drive they started in the first with a field goal. They managed third and five near midfield, then Wes Clifton got a big stop for no gain to hand them fourth and five. With 9:17 to play in the first half, Moore County continued to lead 14-3.

Moore County pieced together a long sustained drive on the next series that ticked four minutes off the clock. Logan Hegwood returned the ball all the way to the 48 then Will Parker, Alex Copeland, Dawson White, and Brantley Hill gained yardage to get the Raiders near the red zone. On third and 14, a pass fell in and out of the hands of Copeland to make it fourth and 14. On fourth down, the Raiders tried the same play on the opposite side of the field to Parker with the same results and Moore County turned the ball over on downs with 5:35 to play in the half.

The Rebels got the passing game going on the next drive when QB Seals connected with a Rebel running back for a long gain. Peyton Martin made the TD saving tackle. Dillion Sherrill and Wes Clifton combined on the next down for no gain. The Rebels then earned a first down to set up a pass completion by Eric Jones for their first touchdown of the game. The PAT made it 14-10 with 3:50 to play in the first half

On the next Raider possession, the Rebels snagged a cross field pass for the INT — handing them the ball back with 1:28 to play in the half. The Raider defense bailed out the offense — forcing a three and out. The first half ended with the Raiders driving near the 30 yard line.

Chippy third quarter

The Rebels got the ball first in the second half and pieced to together a long, sustained 10-play drive that resulted in a touchdown and their first lead of the game. With 8:13 to play in the third, the Raiders got the ball back but lost it on another interception.

Again, the Moore County defense bailed out their offense with tenacious stops by Wes Clifton and Peyton Martin. On third and five, the Rebel pocket completely collapsed — forcing the punt.

Things started to get chippy after that.

On the next Raider series, Dawson White called his own number for a long 26-yard gain and a first down. On the very next play, White took a nasty, helmet-to-helmet, no-call late hit on the visitors sideline as both the coaching staff and home crowd erupted.

The gritty Raider QB shook it off. On second and three, he broke free and bolted cross field on for another Raider TD. The PAT failed. With 3:57 to play in the third, White’s TD gave the Raiders back the lead, 20-17.

His score shifted the momentum and the Raiders began to smell blood in the water. The defense allowed a single first down, then Keller Morey came out of nowhere to snag the Rebel pass giving Moore County back the ball less than a minute later.

On the next series, Dawson White took another questionable helmet-to-helmet and came out of the game. Back up QB Gavin Wise came in and threw a dime straight into the hands on Keller Morey for a quick Raider score. The two-point conversion padded the Moore County lead 28-17.

On the next Rebels series, the Moore County defense stopped the Rebels for a short gain to set up second and eight, then Eli Brown sacked the Rebel QB for no gain — forcing the punt.

Raider defense finishes strong

Moore County’s Logan Hegwood side steps a Rebel defender for seven yards setting up a touchdown on the next play. His score put the Raiders up 35-17. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

The wobbly kick gave the Raiders back the ball to start the fourth quarter with great field position. Dawson White called his own number for four yards on the first play then Logan Hegwood gained three yards and then the first down on the next two plays. Hegwood alluded Rebel defenders for another seven yard, then an offside penalty handed Moore County a fresh set of downs. On first and 10, White handed off to Hegwood once again and he walked into the end zone untouched. Jax Ross’s PAT made the score 35-17 with 9:51 to play.

The Rebels answered in just 19 seconds when QB Seals connected with a receiver on a long pass for six points. The Loius Arellano PAT made it Moore County 35, Franklin County 24 with 9:12 to play.

On the next Raider series, Logan Hegwood managed two first downs to set up second and six, then Dawson White called his own number and out ran a Rebel defender for the final Raider score of the game.

The Raider defense finished strong and kept the Rebels out of the end zone for the remainder of the game.

On the next series, Peyton Martin made a touchdown saving tackle on the kick off return, then Landon Smith managed a play for a loss on second and 12. Dawson White then stopped the Rebels short of the line to gain to set up third and one. An unsportsmanlike penalty against the Rebels handed them third and 19.

Moore County snagged and interception on the next play but a pass interference call gave the Rebels back the ball. On first and 10 at the 33, Wes Clifton put a big lick on the Rebel running back for a loss. Then, three straight pass incompletions handed the Raiders back the ball with 5:04 on the clock.

The Raiders were driving near the red zone as time expired. The final scoreboard read: Moore County 41 – Franklin County 24. The win preserved the Raiders perfect season — advancing them to 5-0. They currently sit tied with Collinwood for the top spot in Region 5A play.

(Editor’s Note: We’ll add game stats as soon as they are available from the Raider coaching staff. )

Moore County will move onto to their third district game of the season next Friday in Cornersville. The Moore County Sports Broadcasting team will live broadcast the game on the NFHS Network. The Times will also post live score updates throughout the game on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is a nonpartisan community newspaper serving Lynchburg, Tennessee and the surrounding counties. We also provide news and information for the 350,000 folks who come to Lynchburg to visit The Jack Daniel’s Distillery each year. We are dedicated to public service journalism for the greater good of our community. You can support us, by clicking here.}

Comments are closed.