Raiders pull off dramatic comeback in season opener

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Southridge's Chase Taylor runs the ball during Friday's football season opener in Linton. Southridge defeated Linton-Stockton 28-20. For more photos from the game, click here.

BY JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

LINTON — Southridge had no business winning its game Friday night, not with the amount of obstacles they needed to overcome. The Raiders were breaking in a brand new starter at quarterback, had a hard time pounding the middle of Linton-Stockton’s defense, and suffered multiple turnovers in the redzone that would have killed most team’s competitive will.

But Raiders coach Scott Beuning always preaches to his kids if they just keep playing good things will happen for them, and the Raiders were able to live out that sermon last night. The Raiders took advantage of timely turnovers and made big plays in crunch time to mount a dramatic 28-20 comeback win over the Miners to announce the return of football in Huntingburg.

“It didn’t look good for a long time,” said Beuning. “They took a lot of things away that we like to do. We couldn’t get our core stuff going, and that’s a credit to Linton because they won a lot of individual battles. But that’s part of the game, not all of the game. What our guys did best tonight was they just kept hanging in there. They stayed in contact with them and gave us a chance to make a couple plays. Couldn’t be more proud of this group on opening night.”

The Raiders' defense was able to force a turnover to start the game, but the first in a series of game obstacles came up in their first offensive drive. Their first two plays went for two yards and a loss of three before junior quarterback Chase Taylor connected with senior wideout Garret Voegerl for a 14-yard third down conversion. Shortly thereafter Taylor hooked up once more with Voegerl to move the ball to the three yard line, but senior running back Cole Calvert lost a fumble on the ensuing play to bring the first series to a halt.

Fortunately the Miners (0-1) didn’t punish them that time as they would turn the ball over on downs after a 14-play drive. The Raiders seized the blown opportunity as Taylor clocked Voegerl leaking out behind the Miners secondary and completed a strike that turned into a 77-yd score to draw first blood.

Good fortune struck again in the Raiders favor when senior fullback Luke Lannan fumbled on the third play of Linton’s second drive. Senior linebacker Brad Springer recovered the loose ball and advanced it back to the five yard line. Calvert drove to the one as the first quarter expired, and Springer finished the job with a one-yard rush to put Southridge up 12-0 at the top of the second quarter.

By this time Linton was ready to respond. Senior running back Trevor Dyer jump started the Miners’ offense with a 19-yard carry on an early third conversion, and what followed was a methodical push as Linton used its stable of backs to combine small gains into first downs. Once they worked their way inside the Raiders’ five yard line all it took was three one-yard rushes before junior quarterback Trey Goodman crossed the goal line for the Miners’ first score with 5:38 left in the half.

Starting from their own 25-yard line, Taylor opened the next drive with a 10-yard rush, and followed up with another 11-yd carry to move the Raiders to midfield. Taylor was then able to hit Calvert on screen pass which he took down to Linton’s 10-yard line. Taylor and Calvert were able to get it to the four-yard line before Calvert suffered a six-yard loss on third and goal. In a last bid to score before halftime Taylor tried to toss a jump ball up to Voegerl in the corner of the end zone, but he was intercepted by junior cornerback Gavin House.

Southridge's Cole Calvert celebrates with his teammates after Friday's football season opener in Linton. Southridge defeated Linton-Stockton 28-20. For more photos from the game, click here.

The Miners ran out the clock and went into halftime.

The Raiders received to start the second half, but could not must anything more that a three-and-out.

The Miners matched them with a short possession of their own before kicking it right back.

The Raiders struggles would continue though as they suffered through a combination of penalties and incompletions that kept them from making significant progress. The doomed drive was capped by Taylor throwing his second pick of the evening.

But once again the turnover was harnessed by the Miners, and both teams failed to produce any points to close out the third quarter.

The Miners possessed the ball to start the fourth and finally overtook the Raiders after Goodman scored on another one-yard run that put Linton up 14-12 with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter. As if that wasn’t enough for a the struggling Raiders team Taylor threw his third interception on a designed screen pass. And this time the Miners made the Raiders pay for it as they scored four plays later on a 13-yard hook up between Goodman and senior tight end Avery Puckett.

But the Miners decided to go for a two-point conversion, which failed and left the Raiders in striking distance with 8:38 left in the game.

When they got their chance Southridge made the most of it.

Following a four-yard loss Taylor hit Voegerl for a 12-yard play, and Calvert converted the first on the next snap with a three-yard rumble. Then on 2nd and eight Taylor found a wide open Springer for a 62-yard score. Taylor hit Voegerl again for a two-point conversion and tied the game at 20-all with 5:53 left in the game.

The Raiders were able to force the Miners to punt, but they sputtered into a turnover on downs as they tried to make their march. But then the Miners gave them an early Christmas gift as they fumbled the snap on their own 33-yard line and junior defensive lineman Quinn Barnett scooped up the loose ball.

One play later Southridge made them pay as Taylor went right back to Voegerl in the corner of the endzone for jump ball. Voegerl rose up and snatched the ball at the top of his jump for the touchdown. Calvert then put a stamp on the game as he ran in the two-point conversion to put the Raiders up with 1:13 left in the game.

Linton wouldn’t be able to put enough plays together to recover.

Taylor went 8-for-19 for 270 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also had 56 yards on 13 rushes. Voegerl finished with five catches for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Springer had two total touchdowns.

Once it was all over everyone on the Southridge sideline was able to breathe a heavy sigh of relief. The players could have easily quit when things weren’t going their way, but they chose to play the game out to its conclusion and were rewarded for it in the end.

“We’ve been focusing all year on composure and what we’re going to do when things go bad,” said Taylor. “Straight of the bat we got tested with that tonight, and I think we handled it more than what we should have honestly. The football we played tonight wasn’t clean all the time, but more than anything everybody picked each other up tonight. If we don’t have the team camaraderie that we do, I don’t think we would have won this game.”

“Effort is going to win us games here,” added Voegerl. “I hope they go back to their film and watch that. I kept reminding the guys ‘Keep going, something good will come our way.’ We picked up a fumble and got a sack, and we won the game that way.”

Southridge travels to county rival Jasper next week.




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