Raiders dominate Cornersville for first conference win

Raiders Kaden White (#20) and Isaiah Petty (#81) get ready to face off against Cornersville on Friday night. {Photo Credit: Riley Corder for the Moore County Sports Network}

CORNERSVILLE — An away game in an intimating stadium with a loud home field advantage against the number two Class A team in the state … one the Raiders had not beaten in the past four consecutive years. After two not difficult wins against Cascade and Community, it felt like the first real test for Head Coach Kris White and his 15 seniors deep 2020 Raiders.

But the Raiders had faced off against the Cornersville Bulldog with high expectations before and come up short.

In 2016, the Bulldogs won 39-15 in Cornersville. In 2017, the Raiders suffered a crushing 42-0 loss at home. In 2018, it was much of the same with Bulldogs blanking the Raiders 39-0. Last year, the Bulldogs marched into Raider Stadium with a 0-2 record and Moore County could just taste the upset. After leading for much of the game, the Raiders fell in the final quarter.

But these are not those Raiders.

As Moore County fans travelled the 51 minute drive west to Cornersville on Friday, they wondered could this be the year that David slays the Goliath.

Moore County hits the gas in the first half

Mike Tyson once famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The loud home crowd, the homemade noise makers, the air horn, the fireworks, the number two hype … all that didn’t matter against a smart, well-coached, deep-benched Raider team filled with play makers who came out swinging.

Moore County scored quick and scored often in the first half. The Raiders won the coin toss and in a gutsy move, elected to receive. It took them exactly six plays to score when QB Kyler Parker connected with Kaden White on a 44 yard pass for Moore County’s first six points. Chase Bradford’s PAT sailed through the uprights to give the Raiders the extra point. With nine minutes still to play in the first quarter, the Raiders led the Bulldogs 7-0.

After the score, many wondered: how will the Raider defense respond? By playing lights out, bend-but-don’t-break football … that’s how.

The Bulldogs managed several successful runs for chunk yardage and a long bomb to their tight end to get into the Raider red zone. On first and 10 short of the goal, Cornersville junior running back Cason Warner got stacked up by the Raider line for a meager one yard gain. On second and nine, the Raiders forced the Cornersville QB Jackson Farler to fumble. The Bulldogs recovered but for a loss. As a clearly fired up Raider defense lined up on third and eight, the hurried Bulldog QB passed late and it fell incomplete. Cornersville settled for a field goal.

On the very next Raider play, QB Parker called his own number, broke a Bulldog tackle, and then beat the safety to the edge to score a quick six for Moore County. Bradford’s PAT was good. The Raiders took an early 14-3 lead with 4:30 left to play in the first quarter.

The first quarter ended with the Bulldogs driving at the goal line and in the first minutes of the second quarter, they finished what they started. At the two yard line, they squeaked past the Raider defender for their first touchdown but the point after fell short. With just over 10 minutes left in the first half, the Raiders continued to lead 14-9 … and that was as close as Cornersville would ever get.

On the next set of downs, Raider QB Parker went to work. He handed off to Tyler Smith for short yardage before connecting with Brayden Cashion on a 24 yard bomb. Two plays later, Smith finished what he started and found the end zone. The PAT missed the uprights. With 9:59 to play in their second quarter, the Raiders padded their lead, 20-9.

Cornersville and Moore County then exchanged punts. On the next Bulldog series, Cornersville found rhythm on offense completing a couple of first downs. Then on a crucial third and 12, Raider defender Donavin Pearson tackled the Cornersville receiver for a first down saving stop.

After three quick Raider scores, it felt like Coach White then decided to throw his offense into neutral. Instead of quick strike plays, the Raider managed a series of slow, methodical first downs to wind down the second quarter. In the final seconds of the first half, Parker connected with Dylan Scruggs with no time remaining for six more Raider points. The two point conversion failed and the Raiders headed into the halftime locker room, leading the Cornersville Bulldogs 26-9 … and they never looked back.

Moore County beat Cornersville in the first half with offense, and sealed that lead in the second half with defense.

Moore County’s Pearson set the tone with a huge tackle on the very first play of the second half. Then, Dawson White came out of the secondary to make a touchdown saving tackle to give the Bulldogs third and one. Two plays later the Bulldogs scored but not before they’d ticked over four valuable minutes off the second half clock. With 8:30 remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs pulled within 10.

On the next Raider series, Moore County looked to punt on third and eight, but the Bulldogs got called for a late hit — gifting the Raiders with a new set of downs and the momentum. They turned the ball over on downs over the next five plays, then Pearson clobbered the Cornersville running back and forced a fumble. Moore County recovered the ball on the Bulldog 30 yard line. Two plays later, Parker connected to Scruggs for his second receiving TD of the night. It was Raider QB Parker’s fourth touchdown pass of the night. Bradford’s PAT was good and the Raider increased their lead to 33-16.

With four fingers raised high, the Raiders concentrated on grinding out the clock in the final stanza. On their first offensive series, they pieced together six plays that resulted in zero points but managed nearly six minutes off the clock. Behind three scores, time was running out for the Bulldogs.

But this is where things had gone sideways for the Raiders the previous year. As the Bulldogs scored on a deep ball from Farler to to running back Alex Hillard, many Raider fans thought, oh no, here we go again.

But these aren’t those Raiders.

With less than three minutes to go and leading by 10, the Raiders refused to relax. They recovered an on-sides kick then played smart, clocked grinding offense. The Bulldog got the ball back with 40 seconds left but it was too late. At the end of four quarters, Moore County walked away with a 32-23 win over a top rival, their first road win, their first conference win, a 3-0 record, and a little swagger.

Offensively, Raider QB Parker managed an outstanding night with with 243 passing yards and four TD passes, another 95 rushing yards, as well as rushing touchdown. Dylan Scruggs caught two touchdown passes for 12 points while Kaden White and Tyler Smith managed a touchdown each. Raider kicker Chase Bradford went three of four.

Defensively, Donavin Pearson came to play with 13 total tackles (six solos tackles), a forced fumble, and several key stops. Tyler Smith managed 11 tackles and Kaden White another 10. Ryder Morey also defended a crucial pass.

The Raiders (3-0) will travel to Forrest (2-1) this Friday for their second of four consecutive away games. The Rockets beat East Robertson 10-0 in Cross Plains in game one, lost to in Portland 20-14 in game two, and won against conference foe Eagleville at home 19-7 this past Friday night.

The game will kick off in Chapel Hill at 7 p.m. For those who plan to travel, the GPS address is 310 North Horton Parkway, Chapel Hill TN 37034. If you can’t travel to the game, it will be broadcast live on Raider Country 105.1 and 95.5 FM, on the NFHS Network, or The Lynchburg Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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 face first test at Cornersville on Friday

The MCHS Raiders prepare for their first conference match up this week in Cornersville. The away game kicks off at 7 p.m. {Photo Courtesy of the Moore County Sports Network}

SPORTS — If you’ve been paying attention so far this season, you’ve noticed that new Head Coach Kris White is well on his way to creating a memorable season for his 2020 Raider team. He has managed to lure a host of athletes from other sports to play football. The MCHS roster is now packed with not only returning stars from last year but also starters from the basketball and baseball teams plus a class of freshman talent who won the state middle school championship last year.

Players are excited to play for Coach White and his assistants, TJ Christian, Manny Buchanan, Randy Morey, Wes Black, and Schuvaud Whitaker. In fact, just last week the Raiders added three new players: Noah Blankenship, Will Baker, and Landon Lavergne.

So far this season, MCHS has stacked up two early season non-conference home wins: a 15-0 victory over Cascade and a 41-8 shellacking of Community. On Friday, they travel to Cornersville for their first conference match up against a rival with a winning streak and an eye on the playoff.

The Bulldogs beat Community 36-6 at home on August 21 and glided past Eagleville 35-13 in Cornersville last week.

So what’s the trick to maintaining their winning streak?

The Raider spread offense has played smart, consistent football so far this year but the Bulldogs’ hard-hitting defense isn’t likely to just lay down. The Raiders will need execution on both the rushing and passing side of the offense to keep the Cornersville D on it’s heels.

Led by Bulldog left-handed QB Jackson Farler the Cornersville offense clicks on several fronts including tight end Eli Welch, who is both big and fast, as well as, Alex Hilliard, who ran for 106 yards against Community. They are helped by a O-line led by Brady Callahan and Cason Warner that does not yield.

Friday night’s game could end up being the battle of the safeties. Cornersville boast two ball hawks protecting it backfield. But Moore County boasts it’s own defensive weapons — the White brothers. Freshman free safety Dawson White and senior strong safety Kaden White have combined for 22 tackles and an interception through two games.

If they can keep the Raiders from being burning by the long pass, the defensive line led by Donavin Pearson (20 total tackles, 10 solo tackles) and Tyler Smith (17 total tackles, 8 solo tackles) can handle the inside run game, hopefully preventing the dynamic Cornersville offense from gaining momentum.

The Raiders played mistake football against Community with zero fumbles and zero interceptions. It’s a trend that will need to continue for the Raiders to come back to Lynchburg with a W on Friday night. Cornersville has won the past three straight match ups.

Coach White says that Cornersville will be returning numerous players including their QB and several defensive players.

“We’ll have to be able to stop the run,” he says. “Based on film through two games, they like to run the ball and do so almost 80 percent of the time,” he said.

Coach White also said that one of the keys to success will be for Moore County’s players not to get rattled by a loud away game.

“They have a DJ who plays music in between plays. It’s loud,” Coach White says. “It’s an awesome game atmosphere but one that can’t serve as a distraction.”

The game kicks off in Cornersville at 7 p.m. If you can’t travel to the game, it will be broadcast live on Raider Country 105.1 and 95.5 FM, on the NFHS Network, or The Lynchburg Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page.

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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.}

Raider season passes on sale

LOCAL NEWS — Raider season passes are now on sale and fans will have a new choice this year. For the first time, Raider All Sports Season Passes will be available for all MCMS and MCHS home games.

Fans may purchase individual tickets to all Moore County Middle School football, basketball, softball, and baseball home games for $75. You can also buy individual tickets to all Moore County High School football, basketball, softball, and baseball games for $100. If you’d like a pass to attend all home sports events for both the middle school and high school, you may do so for $150.

According to Brenda Dye with Moore County Athletics, those who have already purchase football season passes and wish to upgrade may do so. A football season only pass is $35 and that cost will be applied to the All Sports Season Pass.

Moore County High School will play it’s first regular season home game on Friday, September 6 against Cornersville. Kick off will be at 7 p.m. The last home Moore County Middle School game will take place on August 15 at 6 p.m. against South Giles County. Eighth graders will be recognized after the game.•

{The Lynchburg Times is Moore County’s only independently owned and operated newspaper. We cover local news as well as regional news from Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, and Lincoln counties. We also cover things of interest to the 300,000 folks who come to visit our small town each year. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.}