Written by Greg Bird
Friday, 30 October 2009
The Raiders held their heads high despite a 63-0 loss Friday night.
The Raiders held their heads high despite a 63-0 loss Friday night.
Going into the game, everyone knew it wasn’t going to be easy against one of the top-ranked teams in the state, but Coach Clinton Gay was quick to emphasize the positives and use them to motivate the Raiders as their post-season draws nearer.
“Our kids didn’t lay down,” he said.
“I was really pleased,” he added. “I know it sounds crazy, but Bell County is an outstanding football team.”
“We managed to move the ball against them, threw them some curves and caused some turnovers. We never had been able to do that before.”
The Raiders gained 201 yards offense against the Bobcats, nearly as many yards as they had gained in their previous three meetings combined (210 yards.) The Bobcats had averaged yielding only 182 yards in their previous eight games.
While pleased with the defensive efforts, Coach Gay said putting the ball in the endzone would have been a nice footnote to the game.
“We had opportunities to score,” he said. “It would have been nice to get on the scoreboard.
Seven Raider drives moved into Bell County territory, four times within the 25-yard line, but the Bobcat defense stood tough, recovering a fumble, recording two interceptions and stopping the Raiders on downs four times.
Early in the third quarter, Coach Gay pulled his starters, letting his junior varsity players get some playing time.
“I’m sure we could have scored if we had kept our starters in,” he said. “But what is the point of that?”
“We didn’t get anyone hurt and we were able to work on some things before the playoffs.
I was very happy with what we accomplished with the defense. We were reading our keys and it will only get better.”
The Raiders changed up their game plan against Bell County, going to the air more than they have in any previous game.
But they started strong on the ground; two big gains from Zach Roark (13-yards, 19-yards) brought the Raiders to midfield. Facing third and 11, Watts rolled out of the pocket and launched a pass to Preston Shoopman inside the 20. A Bell County defender deflected the ball and an alert Dustin Goins scrambled to grab the free ball for a 38-yard gain at the 13.
Watts tried a run on the next play, but was dropped 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage for a loss. Watts’ next pass attempt went to the end zone, but a Bell County player almost intercepted the pass, stepping out of bounds before the catch to keep the Raiders’ drive alive.
On third down, Watts dropped back to pass, but the Bell County defense was all over him, dropping him for a 15-yard sack before he could get rid of the ball. Watts’ final pass attempt fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.
Bell followed with a 2-play, 72-yard drive for the first score of the game.
After a McCreary punt, the Bobcats took a 14-0 lead with a 39-yard touchdown pass ending a 3-play, 60-yard drive.
The Raiders’ third series moved into Bobcat territory for the second time. Back-to-back runs from Watts and Roark picked up 27 yards, followed by Watts connecting with Dustin Stephens with a 24-yard pass completion to advance to Bell’s 39. The drive stalled there after thee incomplete passes and a run for a loss turning the ball over on downs.
Bell scored for the third time after the turnover, needing just one play, a 62-yard touchdown pass. The Bobcats nailed the extra point for a 21-0 lead.
A great catch from Preston Shoopman in the middle of the field on third down seemed to put the Raiders into scoring position again, but the receiver was hit after the catch, causing the ball to come loose and Bell County recovered the fumble.
The Bobcats used the turnover to cash in their fourth score of the night, taking a 28-0 lead.
McCreary continued to move the ball on their next possession, using a 16-yard run from Shoopman and small gains from Watts and Roark to advance to mid-field. A personal foul called against the Bobcats added 15-yards to Watts’ 5-yard run, moving McCreary to the Bobcats’ 36.
Watts’ first pass from scrimmage after the foul was intercepted by Bell County, but was overturned by a second personal foul against the Bobcats, keeping the drive alive and putting the ball at the 22. A sack sent the Raiders back 13 yards, and two incomplete passes set up a 4th and 23. Watts tried to connect with Shoopman, but the pass was picked off at the 23.
McCreary caught a break when the Bobcats fumbled on their first play from scrimmage and the loose ball was recovered by Shoopman at the 21. But the Raiders failed to capitalize on the opportunity, turning the ball over on downs four plays later at the 16.
For the second straight series Bell fumbled on the first play, this time saw Tyson Williams grab the loose ball, giving the Raiders another chance in the red zone.
The drive was marred by a penalty against the Raiders’ bench, moving the ball back 15-yards, and ended with some controversy.
On fourth down, Watts attempted to connect with receiver Jason Perry on a pass down the sideline. A Bell County defender leveled a violent hit on Perry at the sideline, causing him to drop the pass. The Raider coaches were screaming for a penalty on the out-of-bounds hit, but no flag came and Bell County took over on the 21.
The Bobcats scored their final touchdown of the half with 29 seconds remaining after a 84 yard drive, but the Raiders’ Dustin Goins did manage to block the extra point attempt to make the score 34-0.
After the kick, the Raiders took over at their own 23, but Watts was intercepted on the first play, leaving Bell County with 8 seconds on the clock to try for another score.
The Bobcats lined up for a field goal at the 5, but Perry exacted some revenge, getting a hand on the kick to prevent the score.
Bell’s first drive of the second half ended in a fumble, but the Raiders returned the favor with a turnover of their own, setting up another Bobcat score.
Coach Gay, not wanting to risk injuries sent in his junior varsity squad for the remainder of the game, as did Bell County.
The Bobcats managed to add three more scores in the second half, the last coming off a McCreary interception to make the final score 63-0.
Roark led the Raiders in rushing with 71 yards on 17 carries, Shoopman finished with 14 yards, Noah Duncan with 4,Watts with 3, Storm Stevens with 3, Arils Dople with –4 and Larry Sammons with –1.
Watts completed 4 passes of 20 attempts for 111 yards. Goins finished with 38 receiving yards, Shoopman with 32, Dustin Stephens with 24 and Tyson Williams with 7.
The Raiders have one regular season game remaining, Friday night against the Lynn Camp Wildcats (4-5).
Lynn Camp is coming off a 29-28 win over Berea, and have won four of their last six contests.
“We still have to play Lynn Camp, and they are a good ball club,” Gay said. “They are getting hot at the right time and are heading to the playoffs just like we are. It should be a very competitive, good ball game.”
Gay is hoping that any ill feelings from last year’s brawl during a scrimmage game have evaporated. Since both squads are playoff bound, he believes neither squad wants any on-field incidents that may possibly result in ejections and suspensions.
Friday night will be Senior Night for the Raiders, where 12 graduating players will be honored.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 at Norm Parsons Field.