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The Comeback that nearly was Raiders fall 26-22

Photo by Greg Bird

Brandon Troxell, left, was the mainstay of the Raiders Offense Friday night. The defense, right, had their hands full trying to stop Lynn Camp’s running attack.

The Raiders almost pulled off an incredible comeback Friday night.

After an inexplicable series of plays by Lynn Camp in the fourth quarter, the Raiders had an opportunity to steal a victory in the final minute when they were trailing by only four points. A touchdown would seal their second win, and put another promising stamp on the young season.

Lynn Camp was clinging to a 26-22 lead when they took over with 1:06 left in regulation. With McCreary out of time outs, all the Wildcats needed to do was take a knee and run out the clock.

For some reason the Lynn Camp coach opted to run the ball, and on the second play, the Wildcats fumbled. Dakeaton Jones fell on the loose ball for the recovery, giving the Raiders possession on their own 47, with 26 seconds left to play.

With no time outs, the Raiders needed to move the ball quickly.

After a 6-yard run from Brandon Troxell, the Raiders took to the air.

Quarterback Hunter Jones threw two incomplete passes before finally connecting with Ryan Jones on a screen pass. The Wildcat defense sniffed out the play, however, and tackled the receiver for a loss and ending the game.

Coach Justin Bozeman complemented his squad for staying in the game up to the final moment, but lamented not being able to come through in the clutch.

“If we had only one or two more big plays, there would have been a different outcome,” Bozeman said.

“They fought back hard, and proved to themselves they can come back from being down. We didn’t do a good job blocking or tackling, but we overcame a first quarter disaster and had a chance to win it.”

The game was marred by penalties, several on both teams in the same play.

A total of 25 individual penalties were called between both squads, but 7 were for unsporstman-like conduct or personal fouls. Four of the 15-yard calls went against the Raiders, while three were flagged against Lynn Camp.

“Our mouths got us in to trouble,” Bozeman said after the game. “We have to develop that maturity to not let things like that affect us on the field. That first half hurt us.”

The Raiders took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter after the long Lynn Camp opening drive stalled on the McCreary 16-yard line.

Troxell gave McCreary momentum with two 25-yard carries in the series, but the highlight came with the ball on the Wildcat 11. Ryan Jones took the snap and connected with Hunter Jones on an 11-yard pass for the first score of the game

Lynn Camp answered on their next series, another prolonged drive aided by poor tackling from the Raider defense.

The Wildcats punched in the tying score with 10:22 left in the first half on a 35-yard run.

The Raiders struggled on their next possession as back-to-back sacks on Hunter Jones pushed them back to their own 3. Facing 3rd and 29, Ryan Jones broke through for a 28-yard run, but was stopped one play later trying to get a fresh set of downs and McCreary turned the ball over on downs at their own 30.

Lynn Camp doubled the score on a 7-play drive following the turnover, punching the ball in with 4:10 left on an 18-yard pass and catch to take a 12-6 lead.

McCreary responded to the score with a long drive of their own. Taking over on their own 46, the Raiders moved the ball well in the drive, advancing to the Lynn Camp 3-yard line, but a motion penalty pushed them back and they couldn’t find the goal line in the end.

The Raiders got the ball to start the second half, but were forced to punt on the fourth play after gaining only five yards in the series.

Lynn Camp plowed through the McCreary defense, covering 89-yards on 13 plays, aided by the first unsportsman-like penalty of the game.

The Wildcats punched the ball in from the 5-yard line, and converted the extra points for a 20-6 lead, but McCreary Coach Justin Bozeman was upset over a lack of penalty against Lynn Camp after one of his players had his eyes gouged on the play.

Bozeman was eventually flagged for 15-yards for his protests, but said he wasn’t going to allow his players to get hurt for no reason.

“I’ll fight for my team,” he said. “The penalty was my fault, but I wanted them (the team) to know I had their backs.

McCreary took over with 4:12 left in the third quarter and had another sustained drive.

It looked as if the drive would be stopped around midfield when Jones threw an incomplete pass on fourth down, but Lynn Camp was flagged for roughing the passer, giving McCreary 15-yards and a fresh set of downs.

Five plays later Troxell crossed the line on a 2-yard carry for his first score of the night. A 2-point conversion pulled the Raiders to within 6 of the lead, 20-14.

It didn’t take Lynn Camp long to increase their lead.

Just two plays later; a 15-yard run and a 43-yard run, they scored their fourth touchdown of the game and padded their lead to 12-points.

Both the Raiders and Wildcats were forced to punt on their next possessions, but the Raiders pulled to within 6 points of the lead after a wild 67-yard touchdown run by Brandon Troxell with 6:08 left in the game and a two-point conversion by Hunter Jones.

The score brought the Raider faithful to their feet, and re-energized the strong contingent of McCreary fans in attendance, which, in turn, fired up the boys on the field as well.

Both teams fans began shouting and stomping in an effort to out match each other from that point on.

The Wildcats turned the ball over on downs on their next series, giving McCreary the ball back with 3:34 left in the game at the Lynn Camp 40.

Two holding penalties against the Raiders set hem back, however, and turned the ball over on downs after a 4th and 21 pass attempt fell short.

Lynn Camp took  over with 1:06 left, and instead of running out the clock, they fumbled on their second play, setting up the dramatic finish.

Bozeman said the team was undermanned in the first quarter due to players sitting out for disciplinary reasons, such as missing, or being late for practice.

He stated that decision hurt the Raiders in the first half, but believes it will pay dividends down the road.

“You have to establish discipline,” he said. “Or you’re not going to have a team.”

The Raiders finished with 241 yards of total offense, 241 rushing and 31 passing.

Brandon Troxell led McCreary with 165 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Hunter Jones finished with 42 yards on 15 carries, Nathan Troxell 35 yards on 7 carries and Ryan Jones -1 yards on 2 carries.

Hunter Jones finished the night with 7 completions on 15 attempts for 24 yards, with Ryan Jones going 2 of 3 for 7 yards and a touchdown.

R. Jones led receivers with 5 catches for 20 yards, followed by H. Jones with 2 catches for 7 yards plus one touchdown and Chevy Genoe 2 catches for 4 yards.

Lynn Camp finished the night with 442 total yards, 393 coming on the ground.

Friday night the Raiders (1-1) host Clinton County (1-1) for their home opener.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 34-6 win over Trimble County, and a 32-0 loss to Pickett County to open the season.

Last year Clinton County defeated McCreary 44-24.

Kick off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m., with a Raiders Alumni game to take place beforehand, starting at 6:00 p.m.

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