Despite Taggart’s three touchdowns, Raiders take first season loss to Heritage Hawks; 31-28
By MICHAEL MURRAY
NEWNAN – The Southland Academy Raiders hit the road for Newnan, Ga. On Sept. 2 to defend their previously unblemished record against the Heritage School Hawks.
With both teams hitting the gridiron with records of 3-0, the Raiders and Southland Head Coach, Rod Murray, knew that they were in for a tough match-up as the teams hit the field.
After a long, hard-fought battle, the Raiders ended up taking their first loss of the season, suffering a narrow 31-28 defeat in the contest.
With the loss, the Raiders’ record drops to 3-1 on the 2016 season.
The Southland crew got off to a fiery start in the tilt, scoring three touchdowns in the first half while holding their hosts to only one.
Stephen Taggart opened the game’s scoring with 7:39 left to play in the first, capping off a nine-play, 74-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown rush. Four minutes later, quarterback, Alex Roach broke the plane once more, ending a seven-play drive from midfield with a keeper that broke the plane.
Not long afterwards, the hosts broke their silence with a touchdown of their own before the Taggart struck again for the Raiders, taking off on another two-yard scoring run to end an eight-play drive from their opponents’ 20.
Raider place kicker, Zane Hines, nailed his first two PAT attempts of the game to give Southland a comfortable 20-7 lead as the teams hit the locker room for intermission.
Heritage scored again early in the third to narrow the gap before Taggart hustled into the end zone for the last time from eight yards out to bring an 80-yard, six-play drive to an end. Roach then connected on a two-point conversion pass to Taggart to put the Raiders up 28-14.
This final score, seemingly, woke the Hawks up, as the hosts rocketed forward, adding 14 points to their tally to tie the score before pushing the ball into the Raiders’ red zone as the clock wound down.
With five seconds left in the game, the Hawks kicked a successful 20-yard field goal, narrowly beating the buzzer and snatching the 31-28 victory.
Southland amassed an impressive 410 total yards in the contest, with 56 coming through the air on five completions. The Hawks’ late efforts netted the team 440 yards, with half of that tally gained through passing.
Taggart set the pace for the Raiders on the ground, gaining 96 yards on 12 carries, followed closely by Logan Morris, with 82 yards on eight totes. Clay Owens and Brody Shattles contributed 59 and 49 yards on the ground, respectively. Townsend Ray, Parker Weldon, and Josh McKie added to the Raiders’ rushing yardage as well.
Roach connected on five passes in the match, with Saige Batten on the receiving end of two, for 21 yards. Taggart brought down one 18-yard pass for the Raiders. Weldon and McKie each caught one as well.
The Southland crew will return to the field on Sept. 9, traveling to Dawson in hopes of improving their overall record against the Terrell Academy Eagles in a non-region match-up. The Raiders will return to Harvey Simpson Field in Americus on Sept. 16 to host the Holy Spirit Preparatory School Cougars.