Defensive pressure carries Raiders past Rangers

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Southridge’s Logan Seger, left, and Joe LaGrange tackle Forest Park’s Jake Begle as he rushes in the first half of the Friday evening game in Ferdinand. Southridge defeated Forest Park 48-7 as the Raider defense held the Rangers to just 172 total yards and also had two interception returns for touchdowns in the victory. For more photos from the game, click here.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — After falling 35-7 to Jasper last week, Southridge head coach Scott Buening said there were two key areas that hurt the Raiders — turnovers and big plays.

In Friday night’s 48-7 victory over county rival Forest Park, the Class 2A No. 7 Raiders had both turnovers and big plays except this time it was them creating the turnovers and turning them into the big plays.

Southridge started the game with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown as Logan Seger read Forest Park QB Garret Berg perfectly and proceeded to take it to the house for an early 7-0 lead just a few minutes in action.

“I just kind of saw the quarterbacks eyes and I knew I had great defensive backs behind me that allowed me to leave my zone,” said Seger. “I knew I could cut off some routes and they’d back me up from behind, my teammates were always behind me.”

Just a few drives later, the Raiders (2-1, 1-0) opened up their lead to 14-0 as sophomore quarterback Colson Montgomery found senior Seth Nunamaker on a six-yard TD.

However, the Forest Park running backs had things going early. After a few big runs by Gavin Pierce and Jake Begle, Drew Day broke off a 30 yard run to get the Rangers (0-3, 0-2) into the red zone where Day would eventually punch the ball into the endzone to put Forest Park on the board for the first time this season. The extra point was kicked by Abby Eckert who made her first career PAT — Eckert is the only female football player currently playing in Dubois County.

Forest Park head coach Ross Fuhs was impressed with what the running backs were able to do in the victory and hopes that the Rangers can build on Day’s solid performance (71 yards, one touchdown).

“(Drew) is just a really strong running back, he runs hard anytime whether it’s up the middle or on sweeps,” Fuhs said. “Our running game is starting to get going some, I thought it was by far the best it’s been this year.”

After the Rangers cut the lead to seven, Southridge bounced right back as junior Cole Calvert scored his first touchdown of the night to make it 21-7 on an 11-yard rush. With starting running back Tucker Schank out due to a back injury, Calvert has been a solid replacement as he finished with 63 rushing yards.

But perhaps the most exciting play of the evening came at the 5:47 minute mark in the second quarter when Montgomery broke to the right on a keeper and took it 78 yards to the house to make it 27-7 Raiders at the halftime break after the PAT was missed due to a botched snap.

“Those big plays are oh so key.You look at stats and see the rushing yards, passing yards and all that stuff but the one theme that seems to come up every week is big plays,” Buening said. “Two of the three weeks we’ve done a good job in that category and the one week we didn’t, we paid for it.”

The second half started just like the first half did as Berg was intercepted by Nunamaker on the first drive of the half.

What was going through Nunamaker’s mind during the interception?

“Well, it’s kind of like tunnel vision,” said Nunamaker, with his teammate Logan Seger laughing at his answer in the background. “Once you see the end zone you’re just trying to run free you know?.”

And did Nunamaker ever run free. He took the interception 34 yards to the house to make it a 34-7 Raider advantage.

Southridge’s Seth Nunamaker rushes in the first half of the Raiders 48-7 victory in Ferdinand. Nunamaker had two touchdowns in the game — a six-yard reception from quarterback Colson Montgomery and a 34-yard interception return in the third quarter. For more photos from the game, click here.

The Raiders would add a couple more rushing touchdowns as Calvert scored his second touchdown of the night from nine yards out with 6:47 left in the third quarter to make it 41-7 and sophomore Matt Springer ran in a 8-yard touchdown with 5:43 left to seal the 48-7 victory.

One of the keys to the Southridge victory was the strong defensive play all across the board. The Raiders held Forest Park to 172 total yards with just 31 coming in the air.

“We got them behind the chains often and that’s a plus. Whenever you can get teams into throwing situations, it certainly helps you out,” Buening said. “I thought our guys did a good job of getting pressure and they were where they were supposed to be and did what they were supposed to do.”

Nunamaker added: “We’ve been working hard all summer and we’ve been mentally preparing for this since who knows when. We’re pretty confident about it.”

Colson Montgomery was 6-of-14 with 54 yards and one passing touchdown for the Raiders while Garret Berg was 5-of-15 for 16 yards and two interceptions for the Rangers.

Montgomery was the game’s leading rusher as he finished with 100 yards while Calvert had 63, Springer had 30 and Nunamaker had 24. Day led Forest Park with 71 while Ethan Beckman finished with 37 and Gavin Pierce ended up with a total of 36 yards.

Joe LaGrange was the leading receiver with three catches for 28 yards for Southridge — he was the only receiver with more than one catch for either team.

For the Rangers, Fuhs is hoping that Friday’s game will be a building block for the future as he felt like the energy and enthusiasm the team exerted was the best he’s seen all season.

“Our biggest thing is being consistent,” Fuhs said. “We just can’t let things snowball, when things start going south we have to find a way to stop giving up the big play and then another big play. If we can come out with the energy and enthusiasm we did tonight, we’ll be okay and we’ll win some games.”

With the Raiders now in the meat of their conference schedule, Buening is excited to see the direction in which Southridge is heading.

Even with injuries starting to stack up for the Raiders (Sam Schroeder left the game with a concussion, Schank and Matt Price both missed the game with injuries), Southridge has used perseverance to fight through a tough start to the season.

“Our guys have done a great job with the ebbs and flows of what’s came at them and that’s a big credit to our senior group,” Buening said. “We have to just keep working, keep grinding — these guys are a blue collar group and they’ve had a lot of things thrown at them but it’s just the nature of the beast. They just have to keep grinding and keep getting better.”

Seger added: “We’re feeling pretty confident — we’re starting to get to that midseason point and people are starting to feel good and get things rolling. We feel great.”




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