By Wendell Womack
“14-9-4” What does this mean? There were 14 plays for minus yardage, 9 turnovers, and 4 opponent scores following turnovers!! It’s hard for the Super Bowl Champions to win in a game with these figures.
The AAA Lamar Raiders from Meridian took advantage of the Winston turnovers last week at Patriot Field as they sent the Patriots to 0-2 for the season and improved their record to 2-0. As Winston opened with possession, both teams exchanged punts before the turnover show started.
After a Patriot fumble, Lamar added the first touchdown and PAT with 6:02 on the clock. Winston then added turnover #2 on an interception but managed to deny first down yardage and saw the Raiders miss on a field goal attempt to end all first quarter scoring.
Then at the midway point of the second quarter, Winston fumbled again, that set up another Raider touchdown and PAT with 5:02 left before halftime. The Patriots answered back with a fumble recovery of their own but could not move the ball.
After a punt to Lamar, Dale Chancellor got the ball back for Winston on his first interception of the year at the Winston 15 yard line to end all first half scoring with Lamar on top 14-0. Winston then continued to show life as Reed McCool stopped the opening Lamar drive of the second half with an interception of his own. But disaster continued as another Patriot fumble at the Winston 21 yard line gave the Raiders possession, and they added a field goal with 6:09 into the second half to go up 17-0.
The Patriots continued to give the ball back when another interception was taken by the Raiders at the Winston 35 yard line. But the defense of the Patriots stood strong and stopped the Raiders on a 4th down attempt. As bad luck would continue, the Patriots suffered a safety when the ball was snapped out the back of the end zone to give the Raiders a 19-0 lead.
The Winston defense then got the ball back after another 4th down attempt was denied and took over at the Winston 32 yard line. A Patriot fumble turnover immediately occurred and Lamar added another touchdown on a 1 yard run and added the point after to go up 26-0. This brought all third quarter scoring to an end. After a series of punts from both teams, Lamar added their final points of the night with 3:46 left in the game to go ahead of the Patriots 32-0. But Winston then got their first heartbeat when Taylor Moody took the following kickoff 90 yards for the score with the PAT failing.
The Patriots then stopped the Raiders to force a punt and then ended all the scoring of the night when Logan Webb took it 6 yards for the score. He then passed to Moody for the 2 point conversion to bring the final score to 32-14. With the defense staying on the field most of the night, they were lead in tackles by Reed McCool with 10 stops and an interception.
He was followed by Patrick McGivney, Kyle Stewart, Will Moody, and Hunter McElroy with 7 tackles. Michael Miller and Will Moody each had a fumble recovery and Dale Chancellor had an interception. The offensive charge saw Taylor Moody finish with 49 yards rushing and a kickoff return for a score. Logan Webb finished with 13 rushing yards and a touchdown and passed for 48 yards. Bradley Stapleton was on the receiving end of the only reception of the night for 48 yards.
So with the Patriots averaging 5 lost fumbles per game so far this season, they must find a way to protect the ball. They will be at home this week again against another AAA opponent, Heritage from Columbus I would bet that ball protection will be a focus of the practices thus week. Game time is at 7:00 PM.