Raiders seek a little revenge in playoff rematch against Fayetteville Tigers

Senior Dylan Scruggs, who helped tie the regular season game late in the fourth quarter against Fayetteville, will be one of the Raider seniors looking to exact a little revenge this Friday in the playoff rematch. (Photo Credit: Riley Corder for the Moore County Sports Network)

LINCOLN COUNTY — This Friday night, the Moore County Raiders will get a long anticipated opportunity: a rematch with the Fayetteville Tigers. The fellow Region 5A team exists as Moore County’s only loss of the 2020 season. That 28-22 defeat in Lincoln County on September 18 left a bad taste in the Moore County squad’s mouth.

It was an ugly affair.

The Raiders – in an uncharacteristic mistake-riddled first half – suffered nearly 15 first half penalties and lethargic play. Despite the fact that they tied the game late in the fourth quarter with a clutch Kyler Parker to Dylan Scruggs 55 yard touchdown pass, the Tigers faked a punt and scored the go ahead TD with 50 seconds remaining in the game. (To read our complete coverage of that game, click here.) An opportunity to right that wrong’s been circling in the Raiders players heads ever since.

“After that game, the coaching staff focused the team on just getting better each game, but the kids definitely want another shot at them,” Raider Head Coach Kris White said.

The 12-1 Raiders, haven’t loss a game since Fayetteville City, and now boast a Mr. Football finalist, another Mr. Football semi-finalist, an offense that’s as dangerous through the air as on the ground, and a defense that swarms the ball.

Led by Raider quarterback Kyler Parker and senior running back Tyler Smith, the Moore County offense has pieced together 2,345 rushing yards so far this season. The option QB and elusive running back have proven hard to stop.

In receiving, there are playmakers all over the field. Moore County’s balanced their running attack with 1,972 receiving yards led by freshman Dawson White (535), senior Kaden White (509), senior Brayden Cashion (327), and senior Dylan Scruggs (263), who missed several games late in the season due to a knee injury.

On defense, fellow Mr. Football semi-finalist Kaden White leads in tackles with 136 and he’s followed closely by teammates Donavin Pearson (133), Dawson White (121), and Tyler Smith (108).

By comparison, the 10-2 Tigers prefer to run the football. They’ve earned 2,105 yards on the ground and another 912 through the air. The Raider D will need to key in on freshman running back #3 KJ Jackson, who’s amassed 1,257 of the Tiger’s rushing yards this year. Junior Corian Cash (#11) is the Tiger leading receiver with 393 yards.

On the Moore County Sports Network’s Coach’s Corner on Saturday senior Brayden Cashion said it’s just an opportunity to mark another one off the list. Cornersville, Eaglevile, Chapel Hill, Huntingdon … for this year’s Raider seniors the 2020 season has been opportunity to beat those teams that presented obstacles to their collective success in previous seasons.

Despite that mission, senior center and nose guard Zac Carawan said that the Raiders remained level headed going into the game and planned to play with not only a lot of emotion but also a lot of discipline.

“Basically, it’s an opportunity to get revenge, but we also treat it just like any other game,” he said.

Fayetteville’s football stadium is a quick 30 minute trip down Highway 50 and Raiders Nation will likely show up in large numbers. Tickets will not be sold at the gate and are only available through the TSSAA website or the Go Fan app. MCHS Athletic Director Josh Deal told The Times that the Raiders were allocated 800 tickets and we’ve currently sold 501 of those tickets. 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.}

Raiders beat Huntingdon 42-22 in second round playoff game

Raider QB Kyler Parker attempts to break a Mustang tackle on his way to the end zone. Parker was 13 of 22 for 316 passing yards and a rushing touchdown on Friday. (Photo Credit: Emily Black for the Moore County Sports Network)

HUNTINGDON — Sometimes when things go wrong, there’s a silver lining.

Friday night due to technical difficulties beyond their control, the Moore County Sports Network broadcast didn’t happen for much of the game. Undaunted, loyal Raider fans tuning in on the NFHS Network, switched over the Huntingdon feed. What they heard was confirmation of what Raider Nation has known all year: this Raider team is special.

The two Huntingdon radio broadcasters, compared the Raiders to college players, complimented the Raider kicking game, were impressed by Kaden White’s ability to be everywhere on the field, and marveled at the quickness of Raider QB Kyler Parker. They also thought there must be a typo on their Moore County roster because there’s “just no way that number six, Dawson White, is a freshman.”

By the end of the game, any listener could tell that the two men had been converted to fans.

“They’ve really dominated this ballgame tonight,” they said late in the fourth quarter. “This Moore County team, they do everything well … offense, defense, special teams.”

A first half tale of penalties and turnovers

Penalties and turnover were the story line of the first half. Playing with a bit playoff jitters, the Raiders were called for five penalties — including four offsides calls and a false start— to give the Mustangs back 25 yards and several first downs in the first quarter.

On the Mustang’s side of the ball, the Raider D forced a fumble recovery and two crucial interceptions that led to Raider points in the first 24 minutes of the game.

Moore County got the ball first and came out swinging. In the first offensive series, Raider QB Kyler Parker spotted daylight, tucked the ball, and ran for the Raiders first six points. Chase Bradford’s PAT gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 9:23 left to play in the first quarter.

The Mustangs answered with a grind-it-out, up-the-gut 12-play series that led to their first six points. Three Raider offsides plays for first downs helped. The Mustangs — who don’t kick extra points or attempt field goals — managed the two point conversion to get a early 8-7 first quarter lead.

It was as close as they’d ever get.

Penalties continued to stymy the Raiders in the next series. Dawson White returned the kick off to the 39 yard line and then Parker managed five more to get the Raiders to second and five across midfield. Then, a Moore County false start penalties marched them backwards five yards. Parker’s next pass fell incomplete and Moore County punted.

With first quarter jitters behind them, the Raiders got focused on the next series. Zac Carawan stuffed the Mustangs first and 10 run for a stingy two yard gain. Two plays later, the Mustangs attempted a fake pitch but fumbled the ball and Carawan recovered to give the Raiders back the ball but the Raiders failed to turn the opportunity into points as the first quarter ended.

On the Mustangs next series, Dawson White tackled a Mustang runner in the backfield for a one yard loss. Then, on second and 11, Brayden Cashion spotted and intercepted a floating Mustang pass. It was the Mustang’s second turnover of the night.

This time though, Moore County turned the mistake into points when QB Parker connected with Kaden White on a long touchdown pass. Bradford’s PAT made it 14-8 and the Raiders got the lead back with 10:36 to play in the first half.

The Mustangs again tested the Raider middle on the next series but outstanding defensive plays by Carawan, Tyler Smith, Landon Jolley, Cashion, Hayden Carter, and Donavin Pearson forced a Mustang fourth down. They went for it and Dylan Scruggs tipped the Mustang pass, it fell incomplete, and the Raiders took over on downs.

On the very next play, QB Parker connected with Dawson White on a touchdown pass to give the Raiders six more. Bradford’s PAT gave Moore County a 21-8 lead with a little over five minutes left to play in the first half.

The Mustangs found success again on the next series with chunk yardage up the middle. They managed three first downs, then on a pass play at the Raider 23, the ball came out and Cashion recovered for another drive-killing Mustang turnover.

The half ended with the Raider driving. They went into the locker room with a 21-8 lead.

Taking care of business in the second half

After the break, the Mustang got the ball first. They pieced together two first downs, then on third and short, Pearson blitzed, caught the Mustang runner in the back field, and forced the punt.

On the next Raider drive, Dawson White, Smith, and Scruggs, got the Raiders to second and nine at the 14 yard line. Parker then connected with Kaden White on a slant pass for the Raider touchdown. Bradford’s PAT gave the Raiders a 28-8 leas with 7:24 to play in the second quarter.

The next Mustang drive was same song, different verse. They managed hard-earned yardage all the way into the Raider red zone and then fumbled on a first and goal. Joseph Trice recovered to give the Raiders the ball back. Three plays later, on third and 11, QB Parker threw a crossing pattern pass to Dawson White who caught it and didn’t stop running until he’s hit pay dirt. Bradford’s PAT padded the Moore County lead to 35-8 to end the third quarter.

The fourth quarter began much like the other three for the Mustangs. They fumbled on first and ten at the 23 but got the ball back. Then on second a 16, the Huntingdon QB connected with his receiver on a 30 yard pass in the end zone. Their two point conversion failed and Raiders led 35-14.

The Mustangs on sides kick failed when it bounced high and Cashion called for the fair catch. With great field position, the Raiders pieced together a long grinding series with positive yardage by Dawson White, Parker, Kaden White, and Keller Morey. Parker suffered his first sack of the game on the next play. He shook it off and on fourth and eight, connected with Cashion in the end zone for the final Raider score of the game to make it 42-14.

Raider Head Coach Kris White decided to begin substituting heavily but even the Raider second string came to play. On the next Mustang kickoff, the returner fumbled and the fresh legs of Jason Fanning recovered the ball. His heads up play allowed the Raider offense to grind down the clock to the one minute mark.

Huntingdon managed another touchdown with 31 seconds remaining in the game. Their successful two point conversion made the final score 42-22.

Raiders stats against Huntingdon

The Raiders managed 109 rushing yards and 316 passing yards against the Mustangs. QB Parker completed 13 of 22 passes and ran for another 51 yards on option plays. Besides Parker, Dawson White led in rushing with 46 yards on eight carries. Dawson also led in receiving yards with 164 yards. In total, Dawson White managed an impressive 210 all purpose yards against the Mustangs.

Dawson White and Kaden White led in scoring with two touchdowns each. Parker and Cashion added a score each and Bradford was a perfect six of six in point after attempts.

On defense, Dawson White also led with 15 tackles. Smith followed with 14 tackle including 11 solo tackles, which is also impressive considering that the senior left the game late in third quarter with a shoulder injury.

The Raiders now get to move on to round three and a long-anticipated rematch with Fayetteville Tigers, who handed Moore County their only loss of the season.

Seating will be limited to a third of the stadium’s total capacity, according to MCHS Athletic Director Josh Deal. Tickets will not be sold at the gate and are available only through the TSSAA website or the Go Fan app. According to Deal, tickets are still available. •

{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.}