BY GEORGE WONG/PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
After dropping the ball to the Centennial Cougars in a 2017 season-opening overtime loss, the Ravenwood Raptors were sure to not let history repeat itself Friday night.
After being down 28-14 at the break, the visiting Ravenwood stormed back with a three-touchdown second half to top the Cougars, 35-28.
The Raptors scored 21 unanswered points in the second two quarters of play to secure the comeback.
“Rough start to begin with, but the guys stayed focus, it’s a long game and we kept on their tail,” Ravenwood head coach Matt Daniels said of the victory. “We had a much stronger second half, defense stepped up, and we were able to establish the run better.”
Centennial started the game with a bang only after a few seconds at 11:47 on the clock. The team’s first play of the season saw senior running back Jariel Wilson score a touchdown on the opening kickoff return, giving the Cougars am early 7-0 lead
Centennial RB Za Pickens then scored his own a five-yard touchdown soon after, extending the Cougars’ lead to 14-0.
Ravenwood’s quarterback Brian Garcia helped get the Raptors in the ballgame with a touchdown pass to Anthony Holmes, putting the Raptors on the board, 14-7.
With 1:38 left in the first, Centennial WR Joey Gustafson scored a 76-yard touchdown pass off a throw from quarterback Grayson Marcel, giving them a 21-7 lead.
Ravenwood’s Tony Rice scored a one-yard touchdown a bit later, closing the gap to 21-14. With 4:37 before half, Marcel throws a 70-yard touchdown to Gustafson, extending their lead further to 28-14. Raptor nation was officially on upset alert.
Throughout the game, Marcel and Gustafson connected on multiple deep passes of 76, 70 and 31 yards.
After the half, both teams engaged in gridlock.
A rather uneventful third quarter led to a monstrous Raptors comeback in the fourth. Ravenwood came out flying to start the fourth quarter where Holmes scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass, closing the gap 28-21.
The Raptors followed that with yet another touchdown to even things up 28-28. Rain also started to pour, providing dramatic effect for the fans who were anxiously waiting to see how this close affair would turn out.
Then, the Raptors completed their 21-point run with a Garcia TD pass to Holmes with 6:02 to go, giving them their first lead of the game, 35-28.
This would all the Raptors would need, as Centennial made a critical foul with 1:30 left on the clock to ice any comeback attempt.
“We started off with great energy and got things rolling which put us up early, but all credit to our opponents who raised their level,” said Centennial head coach Matthew Kriesky, “A lot of positives and negatives to take out of this for this week’s practice. We’ll be ready next week.”
The Cougars (0-1) will have another chance to get a win at home as they now face the Hendersonville Commandos next Friday at 7pm.
Ravenwood (1-0) away game at Siegel in Murfreesboro Friday night at 7pm.
Below is a slideshow of photos from Deb Scally.