Raiders mercy rule Richland to earn undefeated season

Raiders pose at the championship wall
Moore County seniors Dawson White, Eli Brown, Logan Hegwood, sophomore Isaac Petty, seniors Landon Hegwood, Keller Morey, and Will Parker pose near the championship wall at Doug Price Field. They and fellow seniors Alex Copeland, Wes Clifton, James Laster, Sawyer Parks, and Luke Gold helped Moore County earn an undefeated regular season on Friday with a 49-13 win over Richland. (Photo Provided)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Moore County Raiders Head Coach Kris White got emotional last night addressing his team following Moore County’s 49-13 victory over the Richland Raiders. That win gives Moore County their first perfect 10-0 season in over a decade.

“I’m just incredibly proud of every one of you. This is a huge accomplishment. But our real season starts now. This is what we’ve been working towards for four years,” he said. Then, as he began to address his seniors directly, his voice cracked to the astonishment of his team. They seemed stunned at first and then clapped in encouragement.

“You are a special group. You’re taking us somewhere we haven’t been in a long time. I love all of y’all and we’ve been through a lot together.”

Coach White is correct. This year’s senior Moore County Raiders football players are special and not just because they possess endless talent on the playing field. This particular group has endured tragedy and come out stronger on the other side both spiritually, mentally, and physically.

In 2020, as freshmen, they endured week after week of spring practice during COVID with no guarantee that their hard work would ever pay off during an actual game. Then in June of that year, they lost their Coach George – George Silvertooth, a beloved MCHS Raiders Assistant Coach. Following their junior season, the unthinkable happened when senior teammate Isaiah Petty died unexpectedly in a car accident in front of the high school. His death sent shock waves through the players and the entire student body.

As seniors, they’ve exhibited the well-worn battle scars of a brotherhood. As Blue Helmet Club President Jimmy Hammond told us, “They truly do have each other’s back. On the field, they have evolved into a complete package. It’s like they think together and communicate on a whole different level.”

That resolve and grit showed up on Thursday night as the Raiders put an exclamation point on their perfect 10-0 season with a 49-13 win over Richland. There was a running clock by halftime.

Moore County went into halftime with a 42-7 lead

The Moore County offense jumped out to a 21-7 first quarter lead on Friday.

Moore County got on the scoreboard first with a one-yard scamper into the end zone by Dawson White. An ill-advised and failed opening onside kick attempt set up Moore County near the 49 to start the game. White and company quickly took advantage with receptions by Alex Copeland, Will Parker, and Keller Morey to setup the score. Freshman kicker Jax Ross’s PAT gave Moore County a 7-0 with 10:29 to play in the first.

Richland failed to get much going on their first possession thanks in no small part to lights out defense by Landon Smith, Coleman Phillips, Eli Brown, and Peyton Martin. They punted on fourth and two to hand Moore County back the ball at the 36 yard line at the 8:37 mark.

On first and 10, White handed off to Logan Hegwood for two quick yards. After an incompletion, White called his own number on third and eight to earn the first down. Hegwood then wrangled free for a long gain, but refs called a holding penalty that resulted in second and 20. Wes Clifton got half of that back on the next play, then a pass to Cole Taylor set up the Raiders with third and three near the end zone. On the next down, White zigzagged in for his second touchdown of the night. Ross’s PAT gave Moore County a 14-0 lead with 6:06 to play in the first quarter.

Richland continued to struggle on offense on their next series. Brantley Hill stopped the kick off return before it could get started then Isaac Petty stopped Richland for short yardage. White nearly picked off the next Richland pass. They punted on fourth and six to hand Moore County the ball back with 4:54 to play in the first.

Moore County started the next defensive series with a bang when Eli Brown came off the edge on a mission and sacked Richland QB Jake Sands for a five yard loss. Rattled, Sands overthrew his receiver on the next down to hand Richland third and 10. Clifton covered the next Richland pass to make it fourth and 10, and Richland decided to go for it. Sands then connected with Andrew Huff for the first Richland points of the game. The PAT made the score Moore County 21, Richland 7 with 3:00 minutes to play in the first.

Moore County then put together a 10-play drive to eat up the remainder of the first quarter clock. It ended with them driving near the red zone. White got bottled up on the first second quarter play from scrimmage, then connected with Morey for first down yardage. After a handoff to Hegwood, White threw a dime to Copeland for six points. Ross’s PAT made it Moore County 28, Richland 7 with 10:27 to play in the half.

The Raider defense shutout Richland in the second quarter.

Moore County immediately swarmed the Richland return guy on the kickoff, then Petty perfectly covered the next pass for no gain. After a short pass completion on second down, Hegwood got the stop for no gain to make it third and six – forcing the punt on fourth down.

Hegwood picked up two yards on the Raider first down, then Clifton added the rest for another fresh set of downs. On first and 10, Hegwood got free and ran all the way to the 20 yard line. On first and 10, Clifton picked up 10 more yards for first and goal. White then connected with Morey who got tackled at the pylon before emerging victorious holding the football in the air triumphantly. That touchdown and Ross’s extra point gave Moore County a 35-7 lead with 6:29 to play in the half.

Richland made two first down plays on the next series, then made a long completion. Petty made the touchdown-saving tackle, but it was enough for a Richland first down. On the next down, Moore County brought pressure and White ball-hawked Sands’ wobbly pass for the interception – handing Moore County back the ball with 5:43 to play in the half.

Moore County then used Parker, Hegwood, Copeland, Hill, and White to make it first an 10 near the 21. Richland intercepted the ball on the next play but a roughing the passer penalty allowed Moore County to maintain possession. White then called his own number to get to the five yard line. Richland’s D stymied Hegwood on the next play, then he muscled in for six on fourth down. Ross’s PAT made it Moore County 42, Richland 7 with 44 seconds to play in the play.

Coach White pulled his starters after halftime

Leading by 35 and now with a running clock, Coach White pulled most of his offensive starters early in the third quarter. Gavin Wise replaced White at QB and James Laster replaced Hegwood as the go-to running back.

The Raider defense forced a three and out on the first Richland possession, thanks to stops by Brown and Smith. Then, Moore County scored their final touchdown of the game when Wise handed off to Clifton who bolted for the final TD. Ross’s PAT made it Moore County 49, Richland 13 with 5:51 to play in the third. Richland scored the final touchdown of the contest late in the fourth quarter. The final score was Moore County 49, Richland 13.

Dawson White led for the Raiders with three touchdowns followed by Alex Copeland, Keller Morey, Wes Clifton, and Logan Hegwood with a score each. Jax Ross was a perfect five of five in PATs. White also led in total yards with 79 followed closely by Hegwood with 70.

On defense, Eli Brown and Landon Smith led with four tackles each followed by Brantley Hill with three. Brown also managed a sack. Dawson White and Trenton Sanders also each snagged an interception for Moore County.

As the Region 5A champions, Moore County will get to play at home during the first round of the TSSAA Class 1A State Football Playoffs. They will play the Region 6A’s fourth place winners, Houston County, next Friday, November 3 at Doug Price Field in the first round of the state playoffs. Kick off will be at 7 p.m. To see a complete Class 1A Bracket, click here. •

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