Raiders deal 50-0 blow to Heritage
Published 12:46 pm Saturday, September 2, 2017
By MICHAEL MURRAY
AMERICUS – The Southland Academy Raiders’ football team has done it again, earning a 50-0 shutout of the Heritage School Hawks, of Newnan, on their home field in Americus on Sept. 1.
The fans came out in droves to see the Raiders improve their record to 4-0 at Harvey Simpson Field in Americus. In fact, Dr. Harvey Simpson, himself, was on the scene to watch this year’s crop of Raiders put their gridiron skills to the test.
With the defeat, the Hawks drop to 1-2.
The victory wasn’t the only treat that the Raiders’ fans were in store for on Friday night. Prior to kickoff, the game ball was delivered to the field by helicopter. The crowd of Raider supporters cheered as a Medevac crew from Cordele landed their chopper on the 50 yard-line to hand over the ball to Southland quarterback, Alex Roach.
As soon as the dust settled, it was time for the kickoff.
Once again, the Raiders got off to a blazing start in the tilt, earning a hefty 43-0 lead over their guests in the initial half.
The action started immediately when, after Southland’s Landon Law returned the opening kickoff to the Heritage 45, Clay Owens broke down the left side for a 45-yard touchdown on the following play.
Raider place kicker, Zane Hines, who, at this point in the season, is yet to miss a PAT attempt, split the uprights to give Southland a 7-0 lead 21 seconds into the first half.
The Raiders held their opponents to seven downs on the return, giving up only 24 yards to force a punt and retake possession of the ball at their own 32.
On the first play of their return drive, Southland’s Luke Law took off down the Southland sideline, breaking three tackles on his way to the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown. A fake punt netted the Raiders an extra two points, leaving the hosts up 15-0 at the 8:35 point in the first quarter.
The Raiders gave up one first down on the Hawks’ answering series due, in part, to hard stops from defenders, Luke Law and Logan Morris. Forcing the Hawks to punt from near midfield, Landon Law picked up the boot and added 25 yards to the Raiders’ tally before eventually being stopped at the Heritage 45.
Southland then took off on a six-play drive, highlighted by a long bomb hurled by Roach that found Luke Law for a 37-yard gain. on the following play, Owens burst through the Hawks’ defensive barrier for his second six-pointer of the game.
Hines, again, deftly added the PAT to put the Raiders up 22-0 with 3:52 left to play in the first.
The Raiders held the Hawks to three and out with a jarring tackle from senior, Brody Shattles, and a tackle for loss that involved too many of the home team’s defenders to count.
On fourth and 18 from their own 15 yard-line, the Heritage squad was forced to punt.
Southland’s Landon Law got a hand on the ball, however, and the Raiders were able to recover possession at their foes’ 21 yard-line.
Southland running back, Townsend Ray, covered most of the necessary ground, pressing the ball to the three before Roach ran a keeper up the gut through a host of Heritage defenders, narrowly breaking the plane for the Raiders’ fourth touchdown of the game.
With 1:41 left on the clock, Hines added another single-pointer before the Raiders relinquished possession to the guests.
The Raiders were just as determined on the defensive side of the ball, utilizing more hard stops from Sam Copland, McCartney Cummins, Brody Shattles, and Ben Cook to slow the Hawks’ progress before the buzzer signaled the end of the first frame. The Raiders jumped into the second quarter with a 29-0 advantage.
More tackles by Hunter McCain and Ragan Norman held the Hawks out of the end zone in the beginning of the second stanza, though a bouncy Heritage punt managed to get away from a Southland receiver, at which point the visitors’ side of the stands erupted in cheering when a Heritage player jumped on it to keep their drive alive.
The Hawks added another 20 yards, breaking into the Southland red zone for the first time in the match-up before a botched snap gave Southland the opportunity to jump on the ball and retake possession. Morgan Youngdale did just that, hopping on the ball at the Southland 12.
Owens added a five-yard run to his tally, setting the Raiders up for a reverse handoff to Luke Law, who plowed his way to midfield on a 36-yard jaunt. Two plays later, a long Roach bomb pulled down by left him in position to add the raiders’ first score of the second frame, a 53-yard catch.
Southland’s Freddie Updike and Ross Minick got in on the action on Heritages’ answering run, adding stops to slow the Hawks down, as did McCain and Youngdale. Even Roach got a tackle in, apparently pulling double duty on the defensive side of the ball.
Held to only 11 yards after seven plays, the Hawks were forced to punt from their own 26. Once again, Landon Law packed the boot, sending the ball flying towards the end zone, where Shattles rushed in to scoop it up for another sixer.
The Raiders carefully guarded their 43-0 lead over the next six and a half minutes, aided by a sack shared by Youngdale and Chandler Studdard, as well as a pair of takedowns from Owen Exley and Norman.
Southland nearly added even more to their advantage when Townsend Ray broke down the right side for an apparent 50-yard touchdown rush near the two-minute mark, but a flag was called on the play and the ball was returned to midfield.
Southland took their 43-point lead into the locker room for the halftime break.
After trading possession only once in the third frame, the Raiders made their final strike with two minutes left before the final quarter.
Saige Batten opened the drive, pulling down a Roach toss and dodging a series of tackle attempts for a 30-yard gain. On third and nine, from Heritage’s 25, Roach ran a keeper up the gut to the 13, followed by a hard run by Owens, in which he dragged several prospective tacklers to the one yard-line. From there, Morris completed the journey up the center for Southland’s final touchdown.
Southland’s reserves gained some valuable experience in the final quarter, with Andrew Bell, James Griffin, Landon Law, and Evan Murphy contributing yardage to the Raiders’ final tally.
Owens set the pace for the team on the ground, contributing 110 rushing yards on 10 carries, followed by Luke Law, who covered 36 on one tote. Ray added 28 yards on a pair of rushes.
Luke Law led the Raiders through the air, pulling down two passes for 102 yards. Shattles caught one pass for 53 yards and Batten followed with one reception for 31 yards.
Roach completed six of seven passing attempts.
The Raiders’ offense covered 394 all-purpose yards (208 rushing and 186 passing) while the team’s defense allowed only 129 total yards.
The Raiders will return to the gridiron on Sept. 8 to put their skills to the test against the Terrell Academy Eagles in Americus. The following week, they will travel to Atlanta on Sept. 16 to battle Holy Spirit Prep before opening Region 3-IAAA competition against Tiftarea Academy on Sept. 22 in Americus.