Titans steal win from Raiders with TD in final secondsOctober 18, 2019
BY JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — Class 2A No. 9 Southridge had Friday night’s game wrapped up, or at least it seemed like they did when they punted the ball back to Class 2A No. 7 Gibson Southern with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Raiders were ahead 21-14 at the time, and the Titans had no timeouts. So the Titans needed a minor miracle in order to drive 93 yards for a chance to come back.
But the Titans proved they could score quickly, after sophomore quarterback Brady Allen drove his team down the field in 40 seconds, and connected with junior wide receiver Logan Murfin for a six-yard touchdown. Then the question was, could Gibson Southern pull a rabbit out of the hat twice?
Allen’s first throw went to senior wideout Adam May for a first down. But the next two passes fell incomplete. Then on third down, Raiders senior running back/linebacker Brad Springer rushed the backfield and sacked Allen for an eight-yard loss. The game all came down to a fourth-and-18 situation. Allen took the snap and seemed to get flushed out of the pocket by the rush. But he used his legs to extend the play, and found senior receiver Seth DeLong downfield. DeLong was able to get behind three defenders, received Allen’s delivery and took the catch 82 yards for the decisive score. A two-point run by senior receiver Ben Butler sealed the 22-21 final.
Raiders coach Scott Buening doesn’t think his team could have done anything different during the pivotal play. He simply chalked up the touchdown as a result of an incredible effort on the part of the Titans.
“We had a pass rush, we flushed him out of the pocket and (Allen) just made a tremendous individual play,” he said. “You can’t do anything else but say that was a tremendous individual play. It turned into backyard football. They had a lot of guys, and we just lost a guy in coverage. It was a great play on their part.”
Prior to the comeback play, the Raiders (7-2, 5-2) were putting together a solid effort in a most unusual way: the passing game. After failing to produce points on their first three drives, the Raiders decided to try and attack the Titans from the sky, and were successful in finding the endzone for the most part. They scored their first touchdown just before halftime on a 26-yard connection between sophomore quarterback Carson Niehaus and senior wideout Garrett Voegerl, who used his leaping ability to outjump the coverage on a fade to the corner.
The Titans came back with Allen’s first touchdown after a 14-yard completion to May on their first possession of the second half. But the Raiders used an 84-yard kickoff return from Springer to march right back down to the Titans’ doorstep. Senior fullback Cole Calvert punched it in two plays later for a 14-7 lead.
Their next bomb came after junior defensive back Camden Gasser intercepted a tipped pass and returned it to the Titans’ 10 yard line. Calvert lost seven yards on the ensuing carry, and Niehaus’s first couple shots to the end zone fell incomplete. But on fourth down, he spied senior running back Austin Kaeck in the corner, and threw up a jump-ball pass that Kaeck collected for the 21-7 third-quarter lead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stave off the Titans.
Niehaus finished 6 for 14 for 94 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Calvert had 89 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Voegerl and Kaeck combined for 43 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Allen finished 17 for 33 with 271 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Senior running back Mitchell Spindler had 144 yards on 23 carries. DeLong led all Titans’ pass catchers with six catches for 190 yards and a score.
While the Raiders didn’t enjoy sitting with the sting of a loss to end the regular season, they know that it’s just a part of football.
They’re set on moving past the defeat, and have their sights set on the first-round sectional game against Mount Vernon, a 29-14 victim of Jasper.
“It’s just what you do in sports,” Buening said. “Sometimes these go your way, sometimes they don’t. You coach and play long enough, you’re going to have some weird things happen. There’s all kind of things you have to rebound and come back from. The bottom line is, we got the tournament coming up, our guys know we have a big week ahead of us. We just got to turn the page and get ready for Mt. Vernon.
“The game’s over, you just got to forget about it,” Niehaus concurred. “We got a big game ahead of us, we got to come back strong and win that first one.”
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