Raiders snag region crown with 49-7 Huntland win

Raider QB Dawson White and receiver Keller Morey against Huntland
Raider quarterback Dawson White high-fives teammate Keller Morey near the end zone on a 57-yard kickoff return for a score on Friday. Moore County beat the Hornets 49-7 to clinch the Region 5A crown. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

Raider option quarterback Dawson White looked fired up from the word go on Friday night. I’m not sure if he’s got his eye on a possible state championship run, or if someone on the other side of the field said something disrespectful during the pre-game. Either way, I could see the determination in his eyes as he walked toward the coin flip.

Make no mistake, the success of this year’s Raider football team is no one-man-show. White is merely a conductor in what is a symphony of talent. On Friday night, he set the tone and his best friends in Columbia blue followed his lead. Together, they put together a 49-7 victory over their lifelong rivals, the Huntland Hornets, and it was never close.

Moore County led by 28 at the half

The Raiders jumped out to an early first quarter lead when White jogged into the end zone on second and 10 around the 7:31 mark. His pass to Alex Copeland, a quarterback keeper, and run for a first down by Logan Hegwood set up the play. Jax Ross’s PAT gave the Raiders an early 7-0 lead over the Hornets.

The Moore County defense showed off on the next series. Eli Brown made a touchdown-saving tackle on the kick off return. Then on second down, Landon Smith stopped the Hornet QB for a one-yard gain. Brown got back in the action with a stop for a stingy two yards, then on third down, Keller Morey matched the Hornet receiver stride-for-stride to force fourth down. The Huntland head coach went for it on fourth and seven, but the Hornet QB overthrew his receiver by a mile, and the Raiders took over on downs.

It took Moore County just five plays to take advantage of the turnover – despite 15 penalty yards. On third and nine, White connected with Morey on a long pass for a first down, then Wes Clifton bounced off defenders and down the right sideline for six points. The Hornets blocked the PAT. With 3:49 to play in the first, the Raiders led the Hornets, 13-0.

The Hornets answered — scoring their one and only touchdown of the game – with a scamper into the end zone by BJ Summers. The Grant Morris PAT made it Raiders 13, Hornets 7. The first quarter ended with the Raiders driving.

Raider running back Logan Hegwood
Senior running back Logan Hegwood jumps over the pile for a Raider touchdown on Friday against Huntland. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

Moore County finished what they started in the second quarter with a leap-frog touchdown by Hegwood, who jumped over the pile. Peyton Martin converted the two point conversion to make it Moore County 21, Huntland 7.

Huntland punted on their next drive, and Moore County took over near the 30 years line. Dawson White threw to Matthew White for a first down and called a QB keeper for the last two. D. White then connected with Wes Clifton to set up first and goal. On the next down, White threw a perfect fade pass to Alex Copeland for a Raider score that apparently wasn’t a score. On second and 10, White threw a pick and the Raiders turned over the ball on downs.

Huntland failed to get much going on the next drive thanks to lights out defense by the Raiders. D. White stopped Summers’ ‘run at the line for a one-yard gain, then Isaac Petty got a stop for no gain. On third and nine, the Huntland QB called his own number but Landon Smith stopped the play for a small gain. On fourth and five, the Huntland pass failed to hit its mark and Moore County took over on downs with 5:20 to play in the second.

Martin gained three quick yards on first down, and then Hegwood added seven more to earn a fresh set of downs. On first down, D. White handed off to Martin again on the next play for two yards and Hegwood added two more on second and eight. On third and six, D. White hit Copeland in stride and he lurched forward for the score. Ross’s PAT gave Moore County a 28-7 lead with 2:49 to play in the half.

The Moore County defense made plays for negative yardage on the next series. Huntland returned the ball to the 25 yard line before being stopped cold by Logan Cashion. On first and 10, the Huntland QB threw an ill-advised lateral pass to his receiver. Giving the Raider defense time to pursue never works out well. A swarm of Columbia blue jerseys tackled the Hornet three yards behind the line. The next pass fell incomplete, then Martin stopped the Huntland running back at the line of scrimmage to force the punt.

On the kickoff, D. White caught the ball deep on the right side then scrambled left – shaking off tacklers as he went. He then caught the edge and ran down the left side and into the end zone – high-fiving Keller Morey along the way. Luckily, Moore County did not get an excessive celebration call. With 1:21 to play in the half, Moore County continued to lead Huntland 35-7.

The halftime score was 35-7.

The Hornets got the ball first in the second half and managed a single first down before punting on fourth and 10. Martin stopped the Hornets behind the line for a loss to force the punt with 8:27 to play in the third quarter.

On the next Raider series, D. White called his own number for six yards, and then handed off to Hegwood for the first down. Hegwood gained six more on the next play, then Cole Taylor managed to convert with a short pass over the middle. With his receivers covered, D. White tucked the ball and ran for another first down, before handing off to Clifton, who managed positive yardage, but a Raider holding call made it second and 20. The Huntland defense stymied Hegwood on the next play, but he broke free on second down for the score. Ross’s PAT gave Moore County a 42-7 lead with 4:04 to play in the third.

The Hornets went three-and-out on the next series thanks in part to heads up pass coverage by Copeland and stops inside by Martin, Brown, and Clifton. Moore County took over on downs as the third quarter expired.

Leading by 35, the Raider coaching staff began to substitute heavily in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Gavin Wise came in at QB. The Raiders 2.0 turned over the ball on downs on their first series, but their defense handed it right back to them thanks in no small part to a big hit on a Huntland running back by freshman Tucker Smith that pushed the Hornets back for a loss of three yards. On the next play, sophomore Tristyn Gray nearly picked off a Huntlnd pass for an INT. Instead, Gray got the tackle for no gain to force Huntland to turn the ball over on downs with 5:20 remaining.

The Raiders Will Parker got the final six points of the game around the three minute mark. A run by Cashion and Wise set up the score. Ross’s PAT made the final score Raiders 49, Huntland 7.

White and Hegwood lead with two touchdowns each

On the ground, Dawson White led with 113 yards rushing followed by Logan Hegwood with 45 yards, and Wes Clifton with 22 yards.

Through the air, White was 13 of 17 attempts for 183 yards. Gavin Wise came into the game in the fourth quarter and was one of two for 48 yards. Five Raider receivers nabbed two catches each including Alex Copeland, Keller Morey, Cole Taylor, Matthew White, and Logan Hegwood. Will Parker led all receivers with 48 yards followed by Hegwood and Copeland with 36 yards each. Brantley Hill and Isaac Petty also had a reception each.

Moore County’s “Thunder and Lightning” Dawson White and Logan Hegwood scored two touchdowns each. White returned a kickoff for a score. Wes Clifton added a rushing TD and Alex Copeland and Will Parker each scored through the air. Raider freshman kicker Jax Ross was five of six in PAT attempts and Peyton Martin scored a two point conversion

On defense, Peyton Martin led in tackles with 11. He was the lone double digit defender of the game.

To view the complete stats, visit Moore County’s page on Max Preps by clicking here.

The win advanced Moore County to a perfect 8-0 overall record and 5-0 in Region 5A play. They also clinched the Region 5A top spot. The loss drops Huntland to 2-6, 1-3 and puts them in sixth place in the district standings. Moore County moves on to their final away game of the season at Forrest this Friday night in Chapel Hill. •

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