Raiders make statement in opener
The second phase of the Justin Bozeman era began with a bang Friday night in Jenkins as the Raiders snapped a 27-game losing streak, knocking off the Cavaliers 46-6.
In their first season after withdrawing from district competition, Bozeman’s task was to reform the McCreary team into a competitive ballclub once again, and Friday night was a significant first step.
The win was McCreary’s first in nearly three full seasons, with their last victory coming on August 31, 2012 against Knott County Central. The 46 points scored was also the most put on the board by McCreary in nearly four seasons, with a September 2, 2011 win over Knott where the Raiders posted a 61-26 victory.
Bozeman said the win was a huge one for the squad, removing the stigma of past seasons.
“For McCreary Central it was unreal,” he said. “The kids needed this win to get that motivation, to forget that bad vibe of losing.”
“At half time in the locker room, their motivation was unreal. The guys played to a different level when they had momentum on their side.”
“They matured for us. Since we have been out here this summer, we have had our ups and downs, but on that Friday night they grew up and became a good football team.”
Just looking at the final stats for the game doesn’t particularly show how dominant the Raiders’ performance was Friday night.
Amassing only 185 yards of total offense, the Raiders gave themselves good field position thanks to strong returns and four turnovers. In eight possessions, the Raiders took over on Jenkins’ side of the field seven times, and inside the 20 three times.
In fact, the biggest problem the Raiders faced wasn’t the Cavaliers; it was the officials.
Only seven flags were thrown throughout the course of the game, but six were against McCreary for a total of 78 penalty yards. Three touchdowns were negated by questionable calls behind the ball, while a fourth score was allowed, but the Raiders had the penalty assessed on the following kickoff.
Sophomore Quarterback Hunter Jones completed 5 of 8 pass attempts for 100-yards and a touchdown. Jones also carried the ball 3 times for 10 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Senior Ryan Jones spelled Hunter Jones at QB for most of the second half and completed 4 of 5 attempts for 21 yards.
Brandon Troxell led the rushing game for McCreary, gaining 23-yards on four carries and one score. Troxell also added a defensive touchdown, picking off one pass and returning it 2-yards for the score.
“Our offense looked good as a whole,” Bozeman said. “The QB’s had great footwork and good pass coordination, and the receivers ran good routes.”
“Defensively, we had a few plays where we didn’t wrap up on people and bounced off their legs. We made good initial contact, but we didn’t finish. We need to work on that.”
The Raiders struck first, and early, after their defense forced a Jenkins punt on their first possession, a three-and out.
After a decent return, McCreary was backed up to the Cavaliers’ 49 after the first illegal block penalty was called against the Raiders.
Jones connected with Chevy Genoe on their first play from scrimmage for a 30-yard completion, setting up a first down at the 19. Jones scrambled across the goal line on the next snap to give the Raiders their first score of the season. A 2-point completion to Genoe put them up 8-0.
Jenkins put together their longest drive of the night on their next possession – advancing to the Raiders’ 39 before losing a fumble, which McCreary recovered.
The Raiders covered 59 yards in four plays on their next drive, culminating in a 16-yard run from Nathan Goins on a pitch for the score. Another 2-point conversion gave the Raiders a 16-0 lead with just under a minute remaining in the first quarter.
McCreary recovered another Cavalier fumble on their first play after the score, giving them the ball back on their own 39.
That drive stalled, and the Raiders punted after three plays.
Jenkins muffed the punt, and Goins fell on the ball at the 7-yard line, giving the Raiders great field position.
Brandon Troxell took the first snap and scampered into the endzone with 10:47 left in the half. The Raiders third successful –point conversion gave them a 24-0 lead.
The Cavaliers turned the ball over on downs after crossing midfield on the next drive, and the Raiders had their first touchdown erased from the board due to penalty.
A 46-yard run was nullified after a blocking penalty was called on the play, and the Raiders were forced to punt after failing to advance.
Jenkins took over on their own 20 following the punt, but on the second play Troxell intercepted a pass at the 22 and returned it for a touchdown. Another blocking penalty was called against McCreary, but the officials ruled it was after the score, so it was assessed on the ensuing kickoff. Another successful conversion gave the Raiders a 32-0 lead going into the half.
The Raiders took the opening kick and Goins returned it to the Cavaliers’ 21, setting up a one-play drive for McCreary. Jones connected with Genoe on a 21-yard pass to put the Raiders ahead 38-0.
Jenkins punted on their next possession, setting up a frustrating series for the Raiders. With Ryan Jones taking over at QB, the Raiders had two scores erased in the drive, due to questionable calls, sending both the Raiders’ sideline and the McCreary faithful who made the three-hour trip into a furor.
The first was after a 20-yard touchdown pass, that was called back for an illegal block, and the second was after a 26-yard run from R. Jones, where he reversed field to elude tacklers and made his way up the opposite sideline, only to be voided due to a holding penalty away from the play and well behind the line of scrimmage.
After getting pushed back to near mid-field, the Raiders were forced to punt.
McCreary put a cap on the night with a 15-yard run from Kade Cotton on their next possession for the 46-0 lead.
Jenkins took over after the kickoff with less than a minute remaining, setting up a final surprise play – leading to their only points on the night.
Perhaps the only blight on the Raiders’ night came on the final play of the game. With the clock nearing zero and the Cavaliers on their own 35, the Raiders’ defense relaxed, thinking Jenkins would just let the clock run out. But right before the buzzer, the Cavaliers quick-snapped the ball and connected on a 65-yard pass and run beyond the Raiders’ secondary for their only score of the game.
This week the Raiders travel to Lynn Camp, where the Wildcats are coming off a 40-0 loss at the hands of Perry County Central.
Bozeman said he expects a good game, and believes his squad is up to the challenge.
“They (Lynn Camp) are always a physical ball club,” he said. “Emotions are going to be very high, coming off this win.”
“Lynn Camp is coming off a loss and will be looking for revenge, but I think they are going to over look us.”