Raiders suffer tough one-point loss at Eagleville

Raider freshman lineman Aidan Blair runs down Eagleville quarterback Landon Collins on Friday. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed Photography)

LOCAL SPORTS NEWS | Eagleville — It’s a universal high school football truth generally accepted that there is no substitute for the game time reps. Game reps are the muscle memory that elevates competitors into champions and right now, the Moore County High School Raiders are paying those dues.

Game reps help players make split second decisions that lead to difference-making plays and on Friday night in Rutherford County, those plays went about fifty-fifty. The Raiders snagged an interception that came within inches of a second touchdown but negative yardage plays kept them from scoring. They managed a smash mouth up-the-gut series that led to a game-winning field goal opportunity but a bad snap kept three points off the board.

“We’re a young team and sometimes the only way young players learn is to make those big mistakes on Friday night,” Head Coach Kris White told The Times.

It’s just the way it goes when you’re in a rebuilding year. At the end of four quarters, the Raiders lost to the Eagles 8-7 dropping their overall record to 1-2 and their region record to 0-1.

Scoreless First Quarter

The Raiders won the coin toss and opted to receive. Dawson White initially returned the kick all the way to the 40, but unfortunately, the first of many holding calls moved his long run back to the 18 yard line. Then, the Raiders managed three yards on a QB keeper by Keller Morey before White ran out of the Wildcat formation for eight more yards and the first down.

On the next series, another Keller Morey keeper and a hand off to Logan Hegwood for six more yards set up Dawson White for a first down earning hand off that got called back 10 yard for holding. The Raiders couldn’t overcome the the third and 15 and punted.

Coming into the game, all Raider eyes were on the Eagles senior, and pre-season All-State QB Landon Collins. Collins lived up to his billing by producing about 85 percent of the Eagle first half offense.

On their first first and 10, Collins called his own number and ran down the far side before being brought down from behind Isaiah Petty. On the next play, the Raiders failed to wrap up Brody Mclemore and he got another first down.

The Eagles continued to put together chunk yardage to get to the Raider 35 yard line. Then Collins scrambled out of the pocket and down the sideline before the Raider’s Joseph Trice made a touchdown saving tackle. Several plays later on third and 11, Keller Morey tipped a Collins pass forcing the Eagles to settle for a field goal attempt. The kick sailed wide left and the first quarter ended scoreless.

Raiders lead Eagles at halftime 7-0

The Raider coaching staff came into the game knowing that the Eagles would likely key in on their offensive work horse, Dawson White. Instead of using him as their go-to in the second quarter, the Raiders used their star running back as a decoy to create space for other playmakers.

On first and 10, Keller Morey ran up the gut for three short yards and then completed a pass to Will Harder for their third first down of the series. After another three yard keeper from Morey, he threw a swing pass to Alex Copeland who ran his first varsity catch four yards. Morey then ran up the middle for another Raider first down.

The Raiders struggled to gain yards on the fresh set of downs, then on fourth and 10, Dawson White took a direct snap and tucked it for the first down to keep the drive alive. On the next down, Logan Hegwood ran five yards into Eagle territory. On second and five, freshman Peyton Martin lowered his head and muscled to the one yard line.

It took the Raiders three plays, but on third and inches Dawson White went over the top for six points. Blake Bradford’s PAT gave the Raiders at 7-0 halftime lead.

Bad snap leads to a Eagle safety in the third

During the break, the game-deciding question seemed to be would the Eagle defense stop Dawson White or would the Raider defense stop Landon Collins. Interestingly, the answer ended up being neither and both.

On the first Eagle series of the the first half, the Raiders held the Eagles to just two total yards and they punted on fourth and eight thanks in part to a negative yardage defensive play on second and six by Hayden Carter.

On the next Raider possession, the offense sputtered and punted on a fourth and nine. That snap bobbled forcing the punter Will Harder’s knee to touch the ground as he attempted to regain possession. The safety gave Eagleville their first points of the game and the ball back. With 8:23 to play in the third quarter, the Raiders continued to lead 7-2.

The never-say-die Raider defense showed up in the next series. After a successful eight yard pass from Collins, a swarm of Raider defenders piled up the Eagle runner making it third and short. One the next play and despite a bad snap, Collins muscled forward for a first and 10.

Then at the 6:30 mark, Collins dropped back to pass but Dawson White sat along the left hash mark waiting. He’d read the offense and knew exactly where the ball was about to be thrown. When Collins released, White jumped up and snatched the pass out of the air for a Raider INT.

With a bit of momentum swinging their way, the young Raider offense showed some grit on the next series. With great field position, Dawson White ran eight yards on second down to give the Raiders third down with two yards to go. Keller Morey then called his own number for the first down.

On the next down, a Raider bad snap lead to a sack but the Eagle personal foul gave Moore County 15 yards anyway. Keller Morey and Dawson White worked to get the Raiders to third and four but a negative yardage play forced the Raiders to go for it on fourth and three. White came in and took a direct snap at QB and ran up the middle but came within inches of the first down.

The Raider got out of the third quarter without any more Eagle points thanks to Wes Clifton, who ran down the Eagle’s Mclemore for a touchdown-saving tackle.

At the end of the third, the Raiders continued to lead the Eagles, 7-2.

Eagle seal the win in first seconds of the fourth

The lead lasted nine second into the fourth quarter. On the second play of the fourth quarter, the Eagles’s QB handed off to #11 Dylan Pratt who ran it right down the middle for six Eagleville points. The two point conversion failed and the Eagles led 8-7 with 11:51 left to play in the game.

The Raiders needed a long, successful, clock-eating drive to have a chance at the W. It didn’t happen.

Raider Logan Hegwood eluded Eagle defenders for an 80 yard return on Friday. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed Photography)

Logan Hegwood returned the Eagles kick 80 yards to put Moore County in great field position at the Eagle 20. On first and 10, the Raider offense misstepped and went backwards five yards. Then on first and 15, another holding call continued the backward drive.

On the next Eagle possession, heads up defense plays by Isaiah Petty and Joseph Trice forced the Eagles to punt on fourth and nine and handed the Raiders the ball back with 7:54 to play in the game.

Keller Morey got short down yardage on first down and then Logan Hegwood added nine yards for a Raider first down. Dawson White pieced together chunk yardage to get Moore County within field goal range. The easy, five yard chip shot would have given Moore County the lead but Blake Bradford never got the chance. The bad snap forced the Raiders to turn over the ball on downs with 4:56 left to play.

On the final Eagle possession of the game, they managed three first downs that ate up nearly four and half minutes of clock but no score. The Eagles punted to the Raiders with just 2.6 seconds on the clock — just enough time to get off one miracle play. QB Keller Morey tucked the ball and made it into the secondary before being run down by an Eagle defender.

At the end of four quarters, the Raiders suffered a tough one point loss to Eagleville in this first region game.

Overall Coach White said he was pleased with some of the improvements the Raiders made from game one to game two but he’d still like to see more physicality up front in both sides of the ball.

“We’ve got a lack of execution on both sides and it’s hurting us,” Coach White said. “Sometimes those little mistakes cost us big plays.” •

{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.}