Raiders fall to Gatewood in defensive struggle
Published 11:17 pm Friday, September 8, 2023
AMERICUS – The Southland Academy Raiders (SAR) fought extremely hard the entire night against the Gatewood Gators (GS), especially on defense. However, in spite of their efforts, penalties throughout the contest proved to be their undoing and they came up short by the score of 20-13.
The Gators drew first blood with 7:44 to go in the first quarter when quarterback Ames Johnson threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Blake Callaway. The extra point was good and the Raiders trailed the Gators 7-0.
Near the end of the first quarter, the Gators were on the march again until Johnson’s pass was intercepted by SAR defensive back Trey Sellers. This gave the Raiders an opportunity to mount a scoring drive of their own.
A couple of plays later, SAR quarterback Banks Simmons connected with Cade Futch for first down yardage at the GS 47-yard line. A couple of plays later, Simmons found Mac McMichael for a huge gain inside the GS 20-yard line, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called against the Gators, which moved the ball down to the GS one-yard line. On the next play, Simmons scored on a quarterback keeper, but the extra point attempt by Cooper Boren was no good, making the score 7-6 in favor of the Gators with 9:45 to go before halftime.
However, the Raiders would get the ball back right away, as the recovered an on-side kick. Simmons then completed a pass to Trey Sellers down at the 15-yard line of the Gators. On the next play, Sellers ran the ball down to the five-yard line before time out was called by the Raiders.
Out of the time out, the Raiders attempted a field goal, but Cooper Boren’s field goal attempt was blocked and the Gators recovered the ball and ran it back to midfield.
However, the Raiders were able to force and recover a fumble and had the ball near midfield.
On the next play from scrimmage, defensive pass interference was called against the Gators, which moved the ball inside the GS 40. However, the drive stalled and the Raiders had to turn the ball over on downs.
With a little over three minutes to go in the first half, the Raiders would get the ball back and they would have a chance to put points on the board before halftime, but the GS defense forced another SAR drive to stall and the Raiders had to punt the ball back to the Gators.
Fortunately for the Raiders, the SAR defense was able to force GS into a three and out and both teams would go into the locker room with the Raiders only trailing 7-6.
Being that GS won the toss and elected to defer till the second half, the Gators got the ball to start the third quarter. However, SAR forced and recovered another fumble, giving the Raiders’ offense another chance to put points on the board.
A defensive holding penalty was called against the Gators, which put the ball down at the GS 13-yard line. A few plays later, Simmons found Trey Sellers for a reception down at the two-yard line. An illegal procedure penalty was called against the Raiders, which moved the ball back to the five-yard line. This was followed by another false start penalty against SAR, which moved the ball back to the GS 10. However, Simmons completed a pass to McMichael down near the GS one-yard line.
Then on third and goal from the one, Simmons scored his second touchdown of the game on a quarterback keeper. The extra point by Cooper Boren was good and the Raiders led 13-7 with a little over seven minutes left in the third quarter.
The Gators struck quickly on their next possession, as Ames Johnson ran the ball down into SAR territory on a quarterback keeper. However, on the next play from scrimmage, the Raiders forced and recovered another fumble, giving the SAR offense another opportunity for a scoring drive.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they were forced into another three and out and were forced to punt.
On the next GS possession, the Gators were able to move the ball down to the SAR 20-yard line and would later push the ball down near the seven-yard line. A couple of plays later, running back Evan Bennett scored from a yard out. The extra point was good and the Gators had a 14-13 lead with 2:06 to go in the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Raiders had the ball third and 12 on their own 18 before Simmons found Ashton Ray for first down yardage on a completion.
However, the drive stalled and the Raiders were forced to punt.
Nevertheless, the SAR defense once again came up big and forced the GS offense into a three and out.
However, on the Raiders’ next possession, Simmons pass was intercepted by Evan Bennett, who ran the ball down to the SAR one-yard line. Fortunately for the Raiders, a blind side block was called against the Gators, which moved the ball back near the SAR 20. Once again, however, as they did all night, the SAR defense came up big again by forcing the Gators to turn the ball over on downs.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they were stopped on their next possession and the ball was turned over on downs to the Gators.. This gave the Gators an opportunity to run some clock. On top of that, the Raiders were flagged for both a facemask penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well, which moved the ball down to the SAR two. On the next play, Evan Bennett scored a rushing touchdown from two yards out. The Gators decided to try for two points and succeeded, but an illegal procedure penalty was called against the Gators. They tried for two points a second time, but the Raiders stopped it. This gave SAR a chance with 2:17 left to get a touchdown and a two-point try to win the game, as they trailed 20-13.
However, on their final possession of the game, the Raiders were unable to gain the necessary yardage and had to turn the ball over on downs to GS, who went on to run out the clock and claim their 20-13 victory.
The Raiders (2-2) will try to get themselves back into the win column when they host Southwest Georgia Academy next Friday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m.