FAYETTEVILLE — It was heartbreak on Tiger Hill.
Moore County scored 22 second-half points to rally and tie Fayetteville City only to watch the Tigers score with 17 seconds to play to beat the Raiders 28-22 Friday night.
The battle was between the fifth-ranked team in Class A in Moore County and sixth-ranked Tigers and was a crucial Region 5 matchup. Fayetteville is now 4-1, 3-0 in Region 5. Moore County is 4-1, 1-1 in region play.
Fayetteville jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead. Raiders coach Kris White said his team was outplayed in the first half. The big and physical Fayetteville line pushed the Raiders around, White said.
“They were (winning the battle in the line) and we didn’t make the right adjustments till probably too late and that’s my fault. We should have made some adjustments early to help us with the run.”
But White was proud of the second-half effort.
“You saw the true grit of our kids in the second half the way they came back out and battled.”
The Raiders started their comeback on the opening kickoff of the second half. The Tigers fumbled the kick and Kaden White recovered at the Fayetteville 31. Tyler Smith capped the short drive with a 13-yard TD run and Kyler Parker passed to Dawson White for the two-point conversion to cut the margin in half at 16-8.
The Tigers answered right away with an eight-play, 61-yard drive to take a 22-8 lead with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
But the Raiders were just getting started. They took the ensuing kickoff and marched 72 yards, mixing Parker passes and runs and the senior quarterback capped the drive with a 2-yard run on the first play of the final quarter.
The extra point failed, leaving Fayetteville City up 22-14.
The Raiders defense bowed up and held the Tigers on two drives in the fourth quarter but then Raiders offense couldn’t get a sustained drive. They forced a punt but the Raiders were backed up on their own 7 with 41/2 minutes to go. The Raiders were faced with a fourth-and-12 at their own 30 and Parker scrambled for 15 yards and a huge first down.
On the very next play, Parker found Dylan Scruggs streaking behind the Tigers defense and he hauled in Parker’s throw and raced into the end zone for a touchdown. Then Parker connected with Kaden White for the game-tying conversion points with 2:45 to play.
Fayetteville took the kick and picked up a couple of first downs before the Raiders defense stiffened. On fourth-and-6, the Tigers faked the punt and picked up 12 yards for a critical first down. Two plays later they connected on a 30-yard pass to the 1-yard line. The Tigers scored on the next play.
Moore County took the kick with 17 seconds to go and quickly moved to midfield but the clock ran out.
“I knew we were fighters,” White said. “I knew that if they wanted to fight we could hold our own, and in the second half we did that.”
The coach was concerned with the slow start, however.
“I talked to them all week about being the hunted instead of the hunter,” he said. “People are going to bring their best game every Friday night now and we have to bring ours, we have to start with ours in the first half, and that just wasn’t the case tonight.”
Parker was 20-of-35 passing for 176 yards and the touchdown to Scruggs and one interception, his first of the year. He also rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries and a TD. Smith added 31 yards on seven carries and a TD.
Scruggs had three catches for 65 yards. Kaden White had six catches for 48 yards.
Defensively, Donavin Pearson and Kaden White had 15 tackles each. Hayden Carter made 13 tackles and Smith made 11. Zac Carawan had eight total stops.
Up next is the final game in a four-game road stretch, at Eagleville on Friday at 7 p.m. The Raiders are off the next week before facing Jo Byrns at home Oct. 9 for homecoming.