By Jeff Banks
BERRY — The Berry Wildcats welcomed the Marion County Red Raiders into Fred Webster Stadium for homecoming in a Region 5 matchup Friday, Sept. 22.
The two teams traded scores, exchanging touchdowns for the entire first half. The second half looked like it would be more of the same, but mistakes by Berry on special teams allowed the Red Raiders to take control in the second half and take the 54-27 victory.
The Wildcats returned the opening kickoff to the Marion County 44-yard line to begin the game. On the seventh play of the drive, Lake Norris got the Wildcats on the scoreboard with a two-yard run for a touchdown. Ace Norris added the PAT to make the score 7-0.
Marion County received the ensuing kickoff and returned it to the Red Raiders’ 39 yard line. Marion County put together a six-play drive for its first touchdown on the night, with Jacob Madison scoring on a five-yard run. Joe Aldridge completed a pass to Omarian Smith for the two-point conversion, and the score was 8-7 in favor of Marion County.
The Wildcats’ offense returned to the field on the Berry 31-yard line after the kickoff. The Wildcats ran four plays before Dalyce Floyd intercepted the ball for the Red Raiders.
Marion County returned the interception to the Red Raiders’ 29-yard line. On the fifth play of the drive, A. Norris intercepted a Marion County pass attempt to get the ball back for the Wildcats.
It would take just three plays and 71 yards for the Wildcats to score its second touchdown of the game, with A. Norris scoring on a 37-yard run. A. Norris added the PAT, and the Wildcats led 14-8.
On the fourth play of the Red Raiders’ next drive, Marion County faced a fourth and two on its 49-yard line, and elected to try and pick up the needed yardage. The Wildcats’ defense broke up the pass attempt, and the ball went over on downs to Berry.
Marion County took only one play to get its next score. Taylor scored on a 21-yard run for the Red Raiders. Marion County failed to get the two-point conversion, and the game was tied at 14.
The Wildcats returned the kickoff to the Berry 39-yard line. Nine plays later, the Wildcats fumbled the ball, and Floyd recovered it for Marion County on the Red Raiders’ 19-yard line.
Marion County used 12-plays and took over four minutes off the clock to cover the 81 yards to the end zone. Taylor got his second rushing touchdown of the game on a three-yard run. The Red Raiders lined up to try for a two-point conversion, but Shaun Waltrip broke up the pass attempt for the Wildcats’ defense, and the score was 20-14 in favor of Marion County.
L. Norris returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Marion County 32-yard line. Five plays later L. Norris raced into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run. A. Norris added the PAT, and the Wildcats led 21-20.
The Wildcats’ kickoff went out of bounds, and the Red Raiders chose to take a rekick. On the rekick, Aldridge took the ball on the Marion County 26-yard line and wove his way 74 yards to the end zone for the score. The Red Raiders picked up the two-point conversion on a pass from Aldridge to Madison to make the score 28-21 in favor of Marion County as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
Marion County lined up to receive the ball as the second half got underway. The Red Raiders returned the second half kickoff to the Marion County 49-yard line. They used just three plays to get their first score of the second half, which was a 41-yard touchdown run by Aldridge. The two-point conversion attempt was broken up by Noah Morrison for the Wildcats, and the score was 34-21 in favor of Marion County.
The Wildcats began its first offensive drive of the second half on the Berry 34-yard line after the kickoff. On the fourth play of the Wildcats’ drive, Aldridge intercepted the ball for Marion County.
Following the interception, the Red Raiders’ offense returned to the field on the Marion County 25-yard line. Five plays later, Aldridge connected with Madison for a 35-yard touchdown. Morrison broke up the two-point conversion attempt, and the Red Raiders led 40-21.
The Wildcats’ offense returned to the field needing to cover 56 yards for a score. On the seventh play of the drive, L. Norris scored on a one-yard touchdown run for Berry. The Wildcats failed to get the PAT and trailed 40-27.
See complete story in the Journal Record.