By Wendell Womack
The best team does not always win, but the hungriest does.
This was the case last Friday night in West Point where the Winston Patriots fell to district opponent, Oak Hill Raiders, 27-21. In a game that saw the Patriots as the most talented team on the field, it was the underdog Raiders that proved the most by taking the lead and never trailing.
The Raiders would get on the board first with 5:04 left in the opening quarter, on a 2-yard run with the PAT following. Winston was then stopped on a fourth down attempt at the Raider 36-yard line. Then with 9:34 left before half, Winston’s Orien Dailey gathered in a punt at his own 15-yard line and took it down the sidelines for an 85- yard score. Gage Graham’s point after kick tied it at 7-7. But the following kickoff saw the Raiders back with a 75-yard return for the score to go back up 14-7.
Winston would then put together a ground attack drive that finished when Zach Taylor broke over the goal line from 1 yard out. Graham’s successful PAT tied it at 14-14 with 4:30 before halftime. The Raiders would then move it to the Winston 3-yard line with two seconds remaining. Their missed field goal attempt sent both teams in at half, all tied at 14-14.
With Oak Hill starting with possession, they were denied first down yardage and punted to Winston. Zach Taylor was then called on to move the ball on the ground with his hard short yardage gains.
Disaster then hit at the Raider 41 when he fumbled to give the Raiders good field position. But as luck was finally falling falling on the Patriots, Ty Thompson would immediately recover a Raider fumble to put the Patriots back in business.
The Raiders then stepped up and stopped the Patriots ground attack and took over on downs near mid field. They would then put together a scoring drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass and successful PAT, to take the lead 21-14.
A very questionable onside kick followed, that saw the Raiders recover and advance the untouched ball to the Winston 16-yard line.
The Patriots denied the end zone and pushed the Raiders back into punting territory. Both teams went through a series for the balance of the third quarter. It was then with 2:16 left in the final quarter that Oak Hill would put their final points on the board with the PAT failing to go up 27-14. But a heartbeat was still in the Patriots and they put together a scoring drive with three big passing plays from Logan Webb to Orien Dailey and Carter Lane Jones.
Then with 40 seconds left in regulation, Zach Taylor broke the barrier and scored his second touchdown of the evening. Graham’s kick cut the Raiders lead to 27-21.
The expected onside kick by the Patriots was denied and the Raiders ran out the clock to capture the 27-21 upset victory.
Offensively, the Patriots were lead by Zach Taylor with 135 yards in rushing and two touchdowns. He was followed by Taylor Moody with 30 yards on three carries and Orien Dailey with 22 yards on three carries. Gage Graham went 100 percent by kicking three extra points. In the passing game, Logan Webb completed four passes for 2 yards with his primary receivers being Orien Dailey with 50 yards and Carter Lane Jones with 12 yards.
Defensively, Tanner Moore and Zach Taylor led the attack with 7 tackles, followed by Will Moody and Sam Dempsey with 6 stops. Ty Thompson was credited with a fumble recovery.
So the Patriots will have to mend their bruises and get their head back on straight as powerhouse, Lamar from Meridian, travels to Patriot Field this week. They certainly do not want a repeat of last year’s game to occur as the Lamar Raiders ran up 60 first half points against the Patriots.
PREDICTION: That won’t happen again. The Patriots WILL regroup!! Game time is at 7.