By David Knox
The Moore County Raiders did almost everything right in Friday night’s Homecoming game against the tough Eagleville Eagles.
Moore County (2-4) dropped its fourth game in a row, and another game against a bigger, deeper opponent, this time 32-20 at Doug Price Field/Raider Stadium. The AA Eagles improved to 5-1.
At this point, one must be doubting every time we say the game was far closer than the final score. But for the third consecutive game, the opposition scored a touchdown in the final seconds just for show.
Moore County led 7-6 in the second quarter, trailed at halftime, 14-7 and were tied 20-20 with 11:25 to play.
It looked like the Raiders had taken a 21-20 lead when Chase Bradford booted the extra point after a Kyler Parker TD. But Eagleville was ruled offside – and it was called a deadball offside penalty before the snap – so Bradford had to kick again. But this time, the snap was a little high and that gave Eagleville’s line a chance to block the kick.
It took Eagleville nine plays to go 62 yards, the big play a 16-yard run by Logan McKee to move the ball to the Raiders’ 16. Marcus Collins’ 4-yard run broke the tie with 7:21 to play.
But the resilient Raiders weren’t done. They had moved the ball all night on the ground against the Eagles, and the line opened some more holes and gritty runs by Parker and Tyler Smith had the Raiders’ fans believing this was going to be the game-winning drive. Parker had an 11-yard run to start the drive and Smith had a 19-yard burst, which was aided further by an unnecessary roughness call. With first-and-10 from the Eagles’ 15, however, a hold brought the next play back. Brayden Cashion took a sack, and on fourth-and-21 from the 26, Cashion lost 3 more yards and the ball went over on downs with three minutes to go.
McKee tacked on a meaningless score with 5 seconds to play for the final margin.
The Raiders piled up 286 yards on the ground. Smith, who was a little banged-up from last week, had 147 yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns in a huge, corageous effort. Parker added 86 on 16 with a TD. Cashion had 33 yards and Myllion Love had 20 on five carries. Cashion was 1-for-2 passing for 31 yards, a connection with Joshua Parks.
The Raiders had 20 first downs.
Parker had an interception, but overall the Raiders defense was hurt again by big plays. The Eagles had three 20+ yard plays in the first half, and the final two were backbreakers. Eagleville completed three passes after Moore County punted with under a minute in the half. Collins passed 9 yards to Trevor Griffin, 20 to Griffin, and then a 33-yard TD pass to Peyton Lane for the touchdown with 3 seconds left in the half. The successful two-point conversion, a pass from Collins to Griffin, gave Eagleville the 14-7 lead at halftime.
The Raiders get a much-needed open date. Coach Jason Dobbs planned to give the players time off for fall break as well.
Non-region foe Jo Byrns is the next contest, Oct. 11 in Cedar Hill in Robertson County near the Tennessee state line, about an hour north of Nashville.
Then, the stretch run is on for a playoff berth. The Raiders will likely need to win all three of their final games, all region games, vs. Huntland, at Richland and at Mt. Pleasant, to earn a playoff spot.
Though the Raiders are now on an uncharacteristic four-game losing streak, keep in mind their opponents in those four losses are a combined 21-2.
The Raiders’ remaining opponents are 10-13 as of this writing.
Youth and inexperience has been a big factor, and Dobbs has said his team needs to learn how to finish and learn how to win. With fewer than five seniors playing key roles, that’s understandable.
But now beyond the halfway point, that won’t land the Raiders a playoff spot. The junior-heavy Raiders have to lead, execute what they’ve been coached to do and set the standard for the rest of this season and next season.