Raiders tame Cougars, advance to title gameNovember 2, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
RAMSEY — Class 3A No. 10 Southridge has made a habit of turning November football into an art form in recent years, and the Raiders churned out another masterpiece in Friday night's sectional semifinals. The Raiders (10-2) got it done on the ground, in the air and on special teams as they turned out a dominant 62-20 win against North Harrison.
Raiders coach Scott Buening praised his players for delilvering a total effort and making some early adjustments to shutdown the Cougars (4-6) before they could establish a solid rhythm.
“Early on, they did a great job of taking advantage of some things we were doing," Buening said. "I was proud of the adjustments that our guys made. To score as many points as we did and to play as well as we did defensively after that first series, I’m really happy for our guys. It was a good night.”
The Raiders got their first spark after forcing the Cougars to punt on their first drive. Senior wide receiver Camden Gasser lined up deep to receive the punt, and initially bobbled the catch before finding a crease to take it up the field for a 69-yard touchdown return. But while Southridge landed the first punch, North Harrison was ready with a counter on its next possession.
The Cougars brought out their version of the ground-and-pound game as they rode junior running back Aaron Nevil on their downfield campaign. Nevil, who is listed at 225 pounds, bounced off Raider tacklers for chunks of yardage on every rush. Senior quarterback Jarret Fenn also lent his contributions to the ground game, carrying the ball for 14 yards on three carries on the drive. Nevil finished the drive with a 17-yard touchdown rush, and the game was tied following the extra point.
Southridge took four plays to respond before it found the end zone again, but it came with a fair bit of suspense.
Senior fullback Cole Calvert converted on third and 14, and senior quarterback Chase Taylor aired it out on the next play to senior wideout Garrett Voegerl in double coverage. The throw looked to be a bit short and it appeared that the Cougars intercepted Taylor's aerial, but Voegerl snatched the ball away from the safety before turning and taking it in for his first score of the night.
“I just remember looking up at the ball and looking down at the safety, and I was like ‘Oh shoot’,” Voegerl said. "It was intercepted for a second. I just took it out of his hands.”
The Big Red Machine was rolling at that point, and used another short drive at the start of the second quarter to score again. This time Taylor, who was playing his second game since returning from a collarbone injury, dialed a run for himself on the fifth play from scrimmage, and rushed 17 yards for a 21-7 Raiders lead.
The Cougars struck back on the ensuing kickoff as Fenn took the kick back 80 yards to make it a one-score game. But the Raiders had an answer for that, too. They needed only two runs from Calvert — for 44 and 21 yards, respectively — to put another score on the board and go up 28-14.
Calvert once again capped a short Raider drive with a 32-yard scoring run following a three and out for the Cougars. Another defensive stop yielded Taylor tossing a second touchdown to Voegerl to give the Raiders the 42-14 lead at half.
Southridge received the ball to start the second half, and Calvert put in his third touchdown four plays later to make it 49-14, at which point both teams started putting in their reserves. Sophomore quarterback Carson Niehaus, who started in place of Taylor while he healed from injury, put in two more rushing scores, and the Cougars put in a final pride touchdown as the clock expired.
Taylor finished 5 of 6 passing for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also finished with 47 yards and a score on the ground. Calvert finished with 185 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Voegerl had three catches for 81 yards and two scores.
“We definitely set the tone,” Taylor said. “We knew they were a physical team and we’re a physical team. Whenever two teams like that meet, it’s going to be a meat grinder.”
“We gelled together as a unit pretty well tonight,” Voegerl said. “We’re all going on all cylinders tonight.”
The Raiders will face Class 3A No. 2 Heritage Hills, who defeated No. 8 Gibson Southern, 21-20, Friday night. The Raiders lost, 42-7, when they first played the Patriots on Oct. 4, but they're excited for the chance to see them again in the sectional championship.
“We’re going to be playing a really good football team, a Top 10 3A team,” Buening said. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity. We love the challenge. Just glad to have another week to practice and prepare.”
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