Gasser, defense send Raiders to semi-state

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Southridge head coach Scott Buening reacts after winning Saturday evening’s regional championship contest in
Lawrenceburg. Southridge defeated Lawrenceburg 49-28. For more photos from the game, click here.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

LAWRENCEBURG - One win is now all that separates Southridge from a berth in the Class 3A state championship game.

The Raiders (13-0) came away with a 49-28 win in Saturday's regional championship game at Lawrenceburg to advance to semi-state for the third time in the past four years. The Raiders already have a Class 2A state championship under their belt, and are making a big for a championship in Class 3A.

Southridge can play at Lucas Oil Stadium for the second time in the last four years, and can advance at home against Danville at semi-state.

"We're just glad to be back to Raider Field next week," Southridge coach Scott Buening said. "We're glad to be where we are. We appreciate what we've been able to do this year, and we appreciate getting to come back to practice again next week and getting to be together again. This team has been immensely fun. It's been incredible - the journey and ride we've had this year, but ultimately, when we get back, it's back to the process."

Buening, who is also Southridge's athletic director, did not know what the attendance plan would be for the semi-state showdown against the Warriors.

However, Dubois County is no longer "Code Red," so it's likely the Raiders will play in front of more fans than they did on Saturday night.

"It'll be great," Southridge senior Camden Gasser said. "I know Raider Nation will pack the house, and it'll be a good time. And hopefully, we can come out with a win."

Gasser's play on Saturday is a big reason there will be another game at Raider Field this season. The Raiders intercepted Tigers junior quarterback five times on Saturday - with Gasser himself notching three picks. He ran one of them back to the end zone that helped put Southridge ahead, 14-0, in the first quarter.

"A lot of it's film," he said. "I get my film and I can see what routes they're going to run - their tendencies, and I just read those passes, and jumped the route. It worked out."

Yoon had a touchdown keeper that ended Southridge's bid for a shutout in the second quarter, trimming the Raiders' lead to 21-7. However, Gasser didn't just star on defense - he responded right away by running back the kickoff all the way to the end zone to extend Southridge's lead. The Raiders enjoyed a 28-7 advantage at the half.

"We only had 41 seconds left, and usually, teams don't kick it deep to me," Gasser said. "So, when they did, I knew I had to make something happen, and found a crease. They did a great job blocking, and it was good from there."

The Raiders scored their first three touchdowns of the night after the defense came away with some big plays. Their first touchdown came after a fourth down stop, and the next two following interceptions.

Southridge's fifth interception came from junior Aidan Jochem, and that opened the door to senior Matt Springer's third touchdown of the night - Springer ran it in for 41 yards.

"We were able to get pressure on (Yoon), and by being able to get pressure on him, I think we got him a little bit uncomfortable at times," Buening said.

"And so, we were able to kind of force him into throwing before he wanted to, and our guys just made plays on the ball."

This will be Southridge's first semi-state appearance at the Class 3A level, and third time in four years for senior quarterback Chase Taylor, who threw multiple touchdown passes and ran one in against the Tigers.

Taylor reflected on the other two semi-state appearances coming when he was an underclassmen - when he was younger. He wasn't sure that he appreciated the trips to semi-state as much as he does now as a senior.

"I knew it was cool," Taylor said. "Everybody wanted to be a regional qualifier, and to make it to semi-state and all that. There's a different level of excitement. When you're younger, you're excited, and it doesn't really register with you. But when you're a senior, getting to come this far and make a run, it registers with you."

He appreciates it even more with everything that has happened with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor didn't think the Raiders would play as much football as they have - that there might be two or three games before things possibly getting shut down.

"I'm just happy we're out here," Taylor said. "It's a blessing, and we're going to take every opportunity to do what we can with it."

For more photos from the game, click here.




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