(By Phil Gatto, Sports Writer)
It was a classic high school football game.
In the fourth quarter, against a district rival, the Moore County High School Raiders season ended with a 19-16 loss to Eagleville in the second round of the TSSAA playoffs Friday. The Raiders came into the game with a perfect 10-regular season on the line, and faced a much improved Eagle team they had beaten earlier in the season. That game had gone down to the wire in the fourth quarter with the Eagles at the Moore County five when time ran out, and served as an omen of what was to come in Lynchburg 10 weeks later.
Second Time Around
Moore County began the game at their own 48-yard line and quickly drove down the field with quarterback J.P. Ev-ans doing most of the work. It quickly became obvious the Eagle defense was primed to stop tailback Matt Taggett.
Evans ran in the final 11 yards with 6:49 left in the first quarter and then ran in the two-pointer to put the Raiders up 8-0.
The Eagles failed to move the ball on their first possession and punted to the Moore County 42. The Raiders opted for a run-oriented game and failed to move the ball as well, though things looked good after Dillon Davis punted to the Eagleville 15.
However, the Eagles soon proved that speed kills as the Eagles’ Chris Hale raced around his right end and went untouched down the sideline for an 85-yard touchdown run.
The extra point was good and the Raiders’ lead was cut to one point with 1:19 left in the quarter.
Moore County appeared unfazed by the quick score, taking the kickoff from its own 29 and driving deep into Eagle territory.
Evans’ rollout pass was picked off at the Eagleville 10 and the drive was brought to a halt at that point.
The Eagles appeared to have scored on a long pass from midfield but the receiver dropped the ball in the end zone, primarily due to a hard hit by Christian Glascoe.
Eagleville took the second half kickoff and quickly moved down the field via the forward pass to the Raider 10 where the Raider defense stiffened, forcing a fourth down. Rather than try for the 27-yard field goal, the Eagles opted for a fake kick, which the Raider defense sniffed out and Moore County took over on downs.
Still staying conservative, the Raiders were forced to punt and Davis’ kick took the Eagles back to their 15 once again.
It appeared that Moore County had stopped the Eagle offense once again as the fourth quarter got under way, but Raiders were called for roughing the punter on a fourth down play and the Eagles got new life at the Raider 41.
Josh Prater came up with a huge sack on Eagle quarterback Ryan Jordan back to the Eagle-ville 41, but two plays later, Ryan connected with Andrew Jernigan for 51 yards and an Eagle touchdown.
The point after attempt was wide, but the Eagles had taken a 13-8 lead with 9:45 left in the game.
The Raiders got the ball at the Moore County 43, but the ground game once again bogged down and the Raiders turned the ball over on downs.
Eagleville got the ball and quickly struck again, this time with the Ryan/Jernigan connection good for 22 yards.
The two-point conversion at-tempt was no good but the Eagles had extended their lead to 19-8 with 4:22 left in the game.
Taggett came close to breaking the kickoff, hauling the ball down to the Eagleville 43 yard line.
After a one-yard loss, Evans found Taggett in the middle of the field and the junior tailback danced his way the rest of the way for the score. With the two-point conversion successful, the Raiders pulled within a field goal, 19-16, with 3:19 remaining.
The Eagles went conservative on offense and punted from their 40 to the Raider 36.
Moore County moved the ball down field quickly but efficiently and got inside the Eagle 10.
With time running out and no more times out remaining at the two yard-line, Evans scrambled, appeared to almost go down but recovered and then found Davis in the end zone for the apparent game-winning touchdown.
However, after the play was over and with no apparent flags on the field, the officials called it back, saying the Raiders had an ineligible receiver down field.
Penalized five yards and with no time remaining on the clock, Evans scrambled once again and this time found Dalton Barrier at the back of the end zone but he was ruled out of bounds and the Eagles earned the next round of the playoffs with a trip to Gordonsville.
Evans led the Raider offensive stats with 135 yards rushing on 29 carries and a touchdown and going 6-9-for 112 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Taggett earned 45 yards on 17 carries; Antonio Arguelles had 12 yards on three carries, and Austin Henshaw had three yards on one carry.
Taggett led the Raider receiving corps with one catch for 44 yards and a touchdown, while Barrier had three catches for 36 yards; Prater had one catch for 25 yards and Davis had one catch for seven yards.