By David Knox
EAGLEVILLE – One week after losing a heartbreaker to Fayetteville City, the Moore County Raiders bounced back with a decisive 21-0 win over Eagleville on the Eagles’ home turf.
It was a little bit ugly, but it was pretty enough after dropping a 28-22 decision to No. 5 Fayetteville last week.
“It was ugly, but I thought our kids played hard,” coach Kris White said. “We couldn’t ever get in a rhythm offensively. We knew they were good up front and put pressure on us. They hurt us at times up front defensively. We’ve just got to keep getting better blocking. That’s one thing we’ve got to get better at.
“I was real proud of the way they responded,” White continued. “I wasn’t sure, you’re never sure, how a team’s going to respond after a loss, especially one as physical as we played in and being one play away from winning. … they came ready to work on Monday and that showed Tuesday and Wednesday … they had a lunch-pail mentality about coming in to work and that was exciting for me and our coaches.”
The now fifth-ranked Raiders (5-1) turned the ball over three times on offense, but the defense was dominating for most of the night against the Eagles (2-5). The deepest Eagleville penetration was the Raiders 25 as the hosts never really threatened. Moore County held the Eagles to 8 first downs – just 2 in the second half — and a scant 138 yards of total offense. The Raiders forced three turnovers themselves.
The offense, meanwhile, overcame its turnovers enough to manage two second-quarter TDs and a late fourth-quarter score. The Raiders rolled up 343 yards of total offense, 201 on the ground and 142 through the air.
Kyler Parker was 11-of-17 passing for 142 yards and a touchdown and rushed 21 times for 110 yards and a score.
Parker opened the scoring with a 4-yard run with 10:57 remaining in the first half. His score was set up by a 22-yard completion from Parker to Kaden White. The 46-yard drive started after Tyler Smith recovered an Eagles fumble. Chase Bradford’s extra point made it 7-0.
After forcing an Eagleville punt on the next possession, the Raiders marched 78 yards in 12 plays to tack on another 7. Key plays in the drive were two third-down conversions – a 15-yard pickup on a pass from Parker to Kaden White on third-and-13 and an 18-yard scramble by Parker on third-and-8 – plus a 17-yard connection from Parker to Brayden Cashion. The payoff came when Parker stayed in the air, hooking up with Dawson White for a 31-yard touchdown pass. Bradford’s extra point made it 14-0 with 2:36 left in the half.
Neither team scored in the third period. Moore County got its final score after pinning up the Eagles on their own 7. A short punt set up a 35-yard drive in six plays, with Smith pounding in from the 1-yard line. Bradford tacked on the final point with 3:31 to play.
Spearheading the defense were Donnie Pearson and Kaden White with 10 tackles each. Pearson recovered a fumble. Smith had nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Dawson Whiote picked off a pass.
Next comes a well-earned open date. The Raiders coach thinks it comes at a good time for his team.
“I think the kids need a little time off,” White said. “I think it’s coming at a good time because the kids are seeing the fruits of their labor right now. To have a couple of days off and sit back and reflect on it a little bit and come back to work next week, I think it is at a good time.”
The Raiders, who moved up from seventh in the state into a tie for fifth with Greenfield, return home for homecoming on Oct. 9 against Jo Byrns.