Raiders outlast Hornets in 31-21 Battle of the Blue victory

HUNTLAND — Raider fans started gathering around 5 p.m. in Huntland. Some even beat the team there and tailgated up until game time. By kickoff, the visitor’s stands were packed with Moore County fans itching for the game to start

The annual Raiders versus Hornets rivalry game enjoys a storied history dating back to the days of Shirley Majors, his son John Majors and their father versus sons face off in the 1940’s. It’s always an emotional, physical game where all the predictions and stats get thrown right out the window. Friday night’s game was no different.

Broken tackles, blocked kicks, and a fake punts … oh my

Huntland drew first blood on their first offensive series. The Hornets ate up much of the first quarter clock with a long, sustained drive using their star running back Kolbi Stewart. At the 4:49 mark, Stewart broke two Raider tackles on a fourth and two and muscled his way into the end zone. Hornet kicker Pedro Garcia’s point after attempt sailed through the uprights to give the Hornets an early 7-0 lead.

The Raiders punted on their first possession. With time quickly expiring in the first stanza, Raider Kaden White made a fierce, first down saving tackle to force the Hornet into a fourth and one punt as time expired.

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But it was a trick. Hornets Head Coach Bob Robertson called for the fake punt but Huntland got flagged for an illegal man downfield. The penalty took the ball out of two down territory. On the Hornet punt, Raider defender Hayden Carter blocked the kick and the Raiders recovered the ball. On the very next play, Raider QB Kyler Parker connected with Dawson White for the touchdown. Chase Bradford’s PAT tied the score at 7-7 with 11:34 left in the first half.

On their next offensive series, the Hornets again looked to Stewart to do the heavy lifting but this time the Raider defense — led by efforts from Joshua Parks, Kaden White, Hayden Carter, and Donavin Pearson — held. On third and 15, Pearson brought down Stewart well shy of the line to gain and the Hornets were forced to punt.

Then Moore County’s quick strike offense hit again. On first down, Kyler Parker managed an 11 yard scramble to set up Dawson White for his second passing TD of the first half. Chase Bradford’s money PAT gave the Raiders the 14-7 lead with a little over five minutes left to play in the first half.

After exchanging punts, Huntland got the ball back with 1:36 remaining. After two Hornet time outs, Hornet QB Payton Reed managed a jet sweep toss to Stewart who found the end zone. The Hornet PAT tied the score with :36 left before half time.

The first half was a smash-mouth, counter-punching kind of affair. At halftime, Raider fans wondered if Raider Head Coach Kris White could make the defensive adjustments necessary to slow down the Hornet running game.

He did. The Raiders managed the first half with aggressive, quick-strike offense and the second half with gritty, bend-but-don’t break defense.

Raiders D holds in second half

The Raiders got the ball first in the second half and pieced together a solid offensive series that got them into the Hornet red zone. On first and ten near the goal line, Kyler Parker connected again with Dawson White but a Hornet defender stripped the ball out of his hands before he could score and the Raiders turned over the ball.

On their next series, the Hornets managed a couple of first downs before Landon Jolley busted through the Hornet offensive line to get pressure on the Hornet QB. His third and eight pass fell incomplete and the Hornets punted.

Dawson White caught the return and scrambled down the far sideline and into the end zone but not before a personal foul flag for a late hit. The play came back to the Raider 34 yard line. It didn’t matter. On the next play, Kyler Parker handed off to Tyler Smith who broken tackles and made defenders missed until he found the end zone. Chase Bradford’s PAT gave the Raiders a 21-14 lead.

But the Hornet answered. This time Stewart and sophomore Bryson Johnson pieced together positive yardage to get Stewart within first and goal. His touchdown and the PAT tied the score again at 21-21.

It only took Moore County three plays to answer. This time, it was Raider wide receiver Joshua Parks with an amazing one handed catch right at the goal line for six points. Bradford’s PAT gave the Raiders the edge back with a 28-21 score.

If the Raiders quick strike offense gave them the first half edge, their gritty defensive play led them down the stretch. With 11 minutes left to play, Hornet QB Reed fake a toss for an option play. The ball popped out and the Raider D scooped it up.

Moore County and Huntland then traded a couple of possessions, when with less than five minutes to play, Raider Ryder Morey force a Hornet fumble to give the Raiders back the ball.

The drive sputtered after a series of miscues and flags but at the 52 second mark, Chase Bradford managed a Raider field goal to give Moore County a two score lead.

Huntland got the ball back with less than a minute to play. On first and ten, Ryder Morey got a huge hit to stop the Hornet momentum and end the game. The Raiders walked a away with a rivalry win, a 7-1 record, and likely second place in Region 5A play.

After the game, Head Coach Kris White told the Moore County Sports Network that moving Dawson White to receiver, something the Hornet coaching staff would not have seen on film, felt key to the victory.

“It’s something they wouldn’t be prepared for,” he explained.

Stats from the Raiders, Hornets game

Dawson White lead the scoring against Huntland with 12 points. Joshua Parks and Tyler Smith also added a touchdown each. Raider kicker Chase Bradford was a perfect seven of seven on point after kicks.

Offensively, Tyler Smith led in rushing yards with 120 yards on 12 carries. Dawson White led in receiving yards with 145 yards on seven receptions.

On defense, Kaden White led with 22 tackles (including 15 solo tackles) and a forced fumble. Dawson White followed with 17 total tackles and Tyler Smith got 14 tackles.

Other key defensive plays included sacks by Ryder Morey and Cody Trussell and fumble recoveries by Dawson White and Hayden Carter. Carter also blocked a punt.

The Raiders face Richland and Mount Pleasant — two crucial Region 5A games — down the stretch at home. Friday night’s Richland game will be a “Pink Out” game in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Kick off will be at 7 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}

Raiders, Hornets face off in Battle of the Blue tonight

HUNTLAND —Can the Raiders build on the running game they found last week? Do they have an answer for Hornet Kolbi Stewart and his smash mouth rushing game? Can the Hornets dominate with the run, eat up clock, and keep the ball out of Raider quarterback Kyler Parker’s hands? These are questions that will get answered tonight at Huntland High School as the Raiders (6-1, 1-1) make the short trip to Franklin County to take on the Huntland Hornets (4-3, 1-1) tonight in what’s come to be known as The Battle of the Blue rivalry game. Kick off will be at 7 p.m.

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Currently, the two Region 5A teams are battling it out for the second seed in the region standings behind Fayetteville City (6-1, 5-0). Huntland, Moore County, and Richland all enjoy a 1-1 regional record. Region 5 enjoys three top 10 Class 1A teams according to the Associated Press: #2 Fayetteville City, #6 Moore County, and #9 Cornersville.

Last Friday night, Moore County shut out Jo Byrns 41-0 at home while Huntland enjoyed a bye week. Huntland will be dangerous on extra rest and playing at home. The Raiders will need to bring their play-making A game and their unyielding defense if the want to travel back to Lynchburg with the W.

In their last game on October 3, the Hornets managed a 41-17 victory over regional opponent Mount Pleasant. Huntland pulled away early in that game – managing a 28-0 lead at halftime – before coasting to a win.

Raider fans will want to keep an eye out for Huntland senior running back Kolbi Stewart (#4) who rushed for 115 yard per game and 11 touchdown so far this season. He and sophomore Bryson Johnson (#8) both average around 100 yard per game. Though the Hornet’s first instinct is always to the run the ball, Hornet senior quarterback Peyton Reed’s favorite target is senior wide receiver Jayden Norwood (#10) who’s caught the ball for 93 yards so far this season.

Stewart is also a force to be reckoned with on defense. He’s forced six fumbles this year along with 37 tackles, and three sacks. The Hornets top defender is senior Micah Millraney (#20) who has managed 78 tackles, eight sacks, and seven forced fumbles through seven games.

Moore County will need another stand out game from senior running back Tyler Smith, who ran for over 100 yards against Jo Byrns. They’ll also need great play by the offensive line to give Raider quarterback Kyler Parker ample time in the pocket.

Like most Moore County Huntland games you can probably throw all the stats out the window. The most talented team doesn’t always win and it’s sure to be exciting. It will be a physical, hard-fought, emotional ballgame.

The Battle of the Blue game will kick off at 7 p.m. at Huntland High School at 7 p.m. If you plan to travel to the game, the GPS address is 400 Gore Street, Huntland, TN 37345. If you can’t attend the game, it will be broadcast live on Raider Country 105.1 and 95.5 FM with Joe Abraham and the Moore County Sports Network, on the NFHS Network, or The Lynchburg Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}