Turnover troubles sink Raiders in quarterfinals as Southland falls 35-0
By MICHAEL MURRAY
SHARPSBURG – The Southland Academy Raiders saw their 2017 gridiron campaign come to a close on the evening of Nov. 3 when the Americus squad found themselves outmatched on the road by Trinity Christian-Sharpsburg in round two of the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) playoffs.
The Raiders suffered a 35-0 loss at the hands of the Lions to draw the curtain on their season with a 10-2 record. With the victory, the Lions earned the right to face the Gatewood Gators in the semifinals.
This week, the Raiders certainly felt the loss of star running back, Townsend Ray, as he was injured in last week’s victory over Trinity Christian-Dublin, and was unable to play in the quarterfinal test.
Southland got off to an uncharacteristically rocky start in the initial half of their quarterfinal tilt, as the Lions managed to force four turnovers over the first 24 minutes of play.
The Trinity Christian squad certainly didn’t squander those opportunities, either. Despite the efforts of several determined Southland defenders, including Hunter McCain, Chandler Studdard, Parker Weldon, Morgan Youngdale, Sam Copland, Brody Shattles, and Stephen Barnes (among others), who each logged tackles in the first half, the Lions managed to put four touchdowns on the board before the halftime break.
Trinity’s defenders were just as hard-nosed in the contest stubbornly keeping the Raiders from approaching the end zone.
At one point in the final stanza, the Raiders managed to get as close as the three-yard line to scoring, but the Trinity crew withstood their attack to retake possession.
To aid the Raiders’ progress in the first half, Clay Owens tacked on several yards on the ground as Shattles, Studdard, and Logan Morris each pulled down passes from quarterback, Alex Roach.
The first half was highlighted, from the visitors’ perspective, by an exciting play in which Southland’s Landon Law took a reverse and fired the ball off to his twin brother, Luke Law, who pulled in the ball to gain a first down for the visitors.
The Raiders continued to struggle in the second half of the tilt, as their foes forced even more turnovers.
The Lions added another touchdown in the middle of the third frame and managed to tack on a safety to garner a 35-point lead that they would cling to until the final buzzer.
Owens was the main yardage-gainer for the Raiders in the contest, amassing 65 yards on 15 carries.
Luke Law added a 28-yard catch to lead the Raiders through the air, followed by Weldon, who caught one pass for an additional 14.
McCain led the team’s defenders with 13 tackles in the match.
After this season, the Raiders will be saying goodbye to 12 senior team members; Saige Batten, Ray, Weldon, Roach, McCartney Cummins, Shattles, Copland, Morris, Youngdale, Matthew Ivey, Jantz Womack, and Barnes.
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