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Raiders fall

Whatever magic the Raiders had found in their win over Berea two weeks ago must have dissipated in the rain Friday night as the Sheldon Clark Cardinals ran over McCreary, 49-18.

In a very undisciplined game, both teams were flagged several times for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. McCreary drew 5 flags, while Sheldon Clark drew 6 of their own for late hits, showboating and taunting.

Sheldon Clark relied on a strong ground game, rushing for 387 yards, while their defense held the Raiders to just 206 yards of total offense – 87 of that coming on one play.

The Cardinals got on the board early after the Raiders lost a fumble on their first possession of the game, turning the ball over on their own 27.

Sheldon Clark used 6 plays to punch in the first score of the night, and after a 2-point conversion, led 8-0.

Another mistake cost the Raiders on their next series.

After failing to gain a first down, McCreary lined up to punt, but the ball was snapped long, over the head of the punter, and finally turned over on downs on the 15-yard line.

Four plays later Sheldon Clark scored on a 3-yard run and expanded their lead to 15-0.

McCreary caught a break on the next Cardinal possession. ‘The defense forced a three-and-out, and on the ensuing punt attempt, the kicker was ruled to be down after his knee hit the ground trying to grab hold of a poor snap.

The Raiders took over on the Cardinals’ 10, and Quarterback Ryan Jones completed the drive with a 6-yard option run down the left side for their first touchdown of the game.

The Raiders had another opportunity after a Cardinal fumble on their first play after the McCreary score, but the drive stalled and the Raiders turned the ball over on downs.

McCreary’s next drive looked promising as they advanced to the Cardinal 33, but their momentum was snapped on a Jones interception at the 1-yard line with 2:47 left in the half.

Sheldon Clark used most of the remaining clock to march up the field, aided in part to a McCreary personal foul around mid-field.

With 16 seconds on the clock, Sheldon Clark completed a 2-yard pass for their third touchdown of the half, and a 22-6 lead.

McCreary tried one final attempt to get back in the game on their final possession of the half, but it almost turned backfired.

With just 4 second on the clock, Jones lofted a pass attempt that was picked off at the 40. The Cardinal defender ran up the sideline, looking to score as the buzzer sounded, but was finally pushed out of bounds at the 1.

Starting the second half, Sheldon Clark marched all the way to the Raiders’ 8-yard line before losing the ball on a fumble, which was recovered by Nathan Goins on the 13.

Brandon Troxell took the snap following the turnover and galloped 87-yards down the field for the score, cutting the Cardinal lead down to 10-points, 22-12.

Sheldon Clark would answer with a 52-yard scoring drive on the next series.

The Raiders collected their last touchdown of the night near the end of the third quarter.

Taking over at their own 41, Jones connected with Goins on 2nd down for a 32-yard pass and catch, putting the Raiders at the Cardinal 25.

A Sheldon Clark face mask penalty pushed McCreary into the red zone, and a Troxell run put the ball on the 3-yard line.

Jones tried to climb his way over the defense on the next snap, but was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for the illegal play, pushing them back to the 18.

After three failed attempts to score, Jones found Goins again for a 17-yard touchdown pass, making the score 35-18.

Jones, however, was flagged after the play for unsportsmanlike conduct, and removed from the game.

McCreary’s Kade Cotton recovered an onside kick attempt at their own 43.

With Jones out of the game, and the Raiders’ other two quarterbacks out with injuries, play calling duties fell to Troxell, removing McCreary’s main offensive threats.

The Raiders’ next drive advanced to the Cardinal 18 before two incomplete passes ended the series, turning the ball over.

Sheldon Clark would lose a fumble on the second pay of the series, giving the Raiders the ball back at the 2, but McCreary would give it right back, throwing an interception on 2nd and 7.

The Cardinals would add two more scores in the final minutes before finally running out the clock after the Raiders fifth turnover of the game.

Troxell led McCreary with 91 rushing yards on 23 carries and scored 1 touchdown.

Ryan Jones finished with 107 yards passing, completing 7 of 14 attempts with two interceptions and one touchdown.

Nathan Goins led receivers with 92 yards on 4 catches and 1 TD.

The Raiders fell to 2-4 on the season with the loss and will travel to Pineville Friday night. The Mountain Lions enter the game with a 3-2 record and are coming off a 41-0 blowout against Cumberland Gap.

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