GUIN — The Marion County High School Red Raiders are advancing to the third round of the state playoffs after a 27-6 victory over the visiting Valley Head High School Tigers on Friday night, Nov. 11.
The Raiders and Tigers held the line on defense in the first quarter, with no points given up by either side. But the Tigers did end the quarter in good field position and scored a few minutes into the second quarter.
The Tigers missed the extra point kick but were still leading 6-0 with 9:20 remaining in the first half.
The Raiders tried to put points on the board, but their first attempt ended with a punt on fourth down. The Raiders stopped the Tigers’ next drive, and they sent out the punter on fourth down. The punt turned out to be a fake, but the Raiders intercepted the pass to take over.
But that possession would also end without success after a fumble was recovered by the Tigers. The first half ended before the Tigers had a chance to score.
Marion County kicked off to open the second half and the Tigers started to gain serious ground, quickly closing in to within the 10 yard line. The Tigers were once again in a great position to score, but the Raiders’ defense dug in and made their stand on the goal line. When the whistle blew after the Tigers’ fourth attempt, the Raiders had held out, keeping the score at 6-0.
The Raiders started in their own end zone, but it wasn’t long before they scored their first touchdown on the night on a 99 yard pass to Tye Madison on second down. The kick was good, and the Raiders held a narrow 7-6 lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers’ next drive ended with a punt on fourth down, and the Raiders kept their momentum going. A long run from Joe Aldridge took the Raiders deep into Tiger territory, and an interference call put the Raiders on the Tiger 25 yard line.
On second and 10 from the 25, Aldridge scrambled to find a receiver as the Tigers’ defense closed in on him, and he found one. Aldridge threw a pass to Dee Lipsey, who made the catch through coverage to score again. The kick was blocked, but it still gave the Raiders a more comfortable 13-6 lead over the Tigers with under a minute left in the third quarter.
On the Tiger’s first drive of the fourth quarter, they were moving down the field and reached the Raiders’ 35 yard line. On fourth and long, the Tigers went for broke and tried to pass to the end zone to even the score. But Landon Morrow denied them the touchdown with an interception in the end zone to put the Raiders back in control of the ball game.
On first and 10, Cade Atkins ran to gain about five yards for the Raiders. On second down, Atkins multiplied that yardage by 10, breaking away on a 50 yard run to put the Raiders at first and 10 on the Tigers’ 40 yard line.
Atkins ran again but was stopped after gaining a couple of yards. On second and eight, Aldridge threw a pass to Madison, who was covered by the Tigers. Despite the coverage, Madison caught the pass for another Marion County touchdown. Another successful pass to Morrow brought in two more points, and the Raiders were leading 21-6 with 5:38 left in the game.
The Tigers advanced back to their own 48 yard line after the kickoff. On first and 10, a sack by the Raiders’ defense knocked the ball loose. The Raiders recovered and scored their final touchdown on the night to go ahead 27-6 after the extra point was no good.
The Tigers made one final attempt, but multiple flags on the Tigers in the closing minutes of the game sealed their fate, and the booming of fireworks as the clock hit zero meant the Raiders were headed to the third round of the state playoffs.
Aldridge completed six out of 12 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns, allowing one interception.
Atkins rushed for 129 yards, Aldridge rushed for 53 and Lipsey rushed for eight.
Madison caught two passes to pick up 150 yards and two touchdowns. Lipsey caught one pass for 25 yards and a touchdown. Morrow caught two passes for 21 yards.
The Raiders will travel to Pickens County High School in Reform this Friday night to take on the Tornadoes at 7 p.m.
See complete story in the Journal Record.