It took 100 years … and an overtime.
But now Coffee County Central’s Red Raider football team has won a playoff game.
The Red Raiders delivered a second-half comeback for the ages, scored on the first play of overtime and then stonewalled Stewarts Creek for a 28-21 win Friday night (Nov. 4) in Manchester.
“That game was a dog fight,” said CHS senior center Darryn Strickland during postgame interviews with Thunder Radio WMSR. “I’ve never been so exhausted in my life.”
It took everything the Red Raiders had in the tank to forever etch this year’s team in the record books.
Down 21-7 at halftime, the Raider defense pitched a shutout in the second half, including a season-saving goal-line stand.
Coffee County took the opening drive of the second half and scored in 9 plays, capped by a 1-yard run from senior tailback Konor Heaton to cut the deficit to 21-14. Heaton was an absolute workhorse for the Raiders (9-2 overall), finishing with 195 yards on a career-high 41 carries and 3 touchdowns.
“They were a tough team,” said Heaton after the game. “We didn’t start the way we wanted to, for sure.”
After Heaton’s score, the Raider defense dug in. Stewarts Creek would reach the 3 yard line on its next drive and get shut down on first down before the CHS defense poked the ball out on second down and Raider safety Tyler Martin scooped it up and returned it to the 20-yard line.
Coffee County had a 53-yard Cole Pippenger touchdown called back for a holding penalty on the ensuing drive and then stalled out and turned the ball over inside the Red Hawk 15 on the next possession to start the fourth quarter.
But after that turnover on downs the CHS defense forced a three-and-out to get the offense a shot from midfield. The Raiders made good on that possession, finishing it with a 1-yard Heaton touchdown to tie the game with 3:17 to play.
The Red Hawks got to the Raider 29 with under 30 seconds to play but Jayden Carter sacked SC quarterback Gage Hoover on fourth down to send the game into overtime.
Coffee County scored on the first play of overtime: a 10-yard gallop from Heaton untouched to the corner of the end zone.
The Raider defense held from there — getting a stop for a 5-yard loss by Blayne Myers, another tackle for loss by Jayden Carter. After a Hoover scramble got Stewarts Creek to the 6, the Raider defense forced an incompletion to seal the win.
“Coach (Doug) Greene told us all week it wasn’t gone be easy,” said CHS tight end Jahlin Osbourne. “Coach Green and (defensive coordinator) coach (Haynes) made perfect adjustments at halftime and we just made history.”
Osbourne had a big day through the air – hauling in 7 passes for 76 yards. The Raider offense finished with 305 total yards, 181 coming in the second half when they went to more of an up-tempo look.
“I think in the first half we were kind of feeling the moment a little bit and made some mistakes,” said CHS head coach Doug Greene. “It was quiet (at halftime) when I went into the locker room. I told them this will work if we don’t quit. We have been unbelievably blessed. I’m grateful we could do this for our town.”
The first half wasn’t so pleasant for the Raiders.
Stewarts Creek jumped on Coffee County from the first play, using a trick play to bust a 58-yard score to open the game. The Raiders answered, though, getting the first of Heaton’s touchdown runs from 6 yards out to cap an 84-yard scoring drive and tie the game at 7-7.
Stewarts Creek killed the Raider defense with big plays after that. Hoover hit his tight end Dylan Jones for a 20-yard score and then connected with Morgan Vanderbilt from 14-yards out to put the Red Hawks up 21-7 late in the first half. That was the last time Stewarts Creek would score.
The win improves the Raiders to 9-2 overall, which is the most in a season since 1969. It also marks the program’s first-ever TSSAA State Football playoff win. Previously the Raiders were 0-11 all time in the playoffs with their first appearance coming in 1997.
The Raiders will now host Blackman. The Blaze come to Manchester on Friday, Nov. 11 for a 7 p.m. kickoff. There are only 16 6A teams remaining in the playoffs after Friday night. Stewarts Creek season comes to an end with the loss.
THIS GAME WAS BROADCAST LIVE ON THUNDER RADIO. CLICK HERE FOR THE FIRST HALF REPLAY. CLICK HERE FOR THE SECOND HALF REPLAY.
All audio highlights provided by Thunder Radio WMSR AM 1320, FM 107.9 FM Coffee County Broadcasting. Reuse or redistribution without the express written consent of Coffee County Broadcasting, inc. is strictly prohibited.
OFFENSIVE STATS COFFEE COUNTY (unofficial stats)
Konor Heaton: 41 carries, 195 yards, 3 TD
Cole Pippenger: 12 carroes, 1 yard
Cole Pippenger: 10-of-24, 109 yards. 1 INT
Jahlin Osbourne: 7 catches, 76 yards
Travis Martin: 2 catches, 20 yards
Ian Welden: 1 catch, 13 yards
6 for 65 yards
Fumble recovery by Ashton Ferrell and Tyler Martin.
Two defensive sacks means $500 in donations to the Dennis Weaver Dream for Weave Foundation.
DEFENSIVE STATS COFFEE COUNTY
Tristin Galy – 10 tackles
Jayden Carter – 9 tackles, 1 sack
Tyler Martin – 9 tackles
Caiden Martin – 7 tackles
Jake Barlow – 7 tackles, 1 pressure
Brendon Sheppard – 6 tackles, 1 pressure
Caiden Warren – 3 tackles
Ashton Ferrell – 3 tackles, 1 pressure, 1 fumble recovery
Blayne Myers – 2 tackles, 2 pressures, 1 TFL
Tyler Smith – 2 tackles, 2 pressures
STEWARTS CREEK OFFENSE
Keilan Harris – 17 carries, 42 yards
Gage Hoover – 11 carries, 101 yards
BJ Peters – 2 carries, 1 yard
Gage Hoover- 11-of-19, 209 yards, 3 TD
Morgan Vanderbilt – 7 catches, 108 yards, 2TD
Dylan Jones – 1 catch, 20 yards, 1 TD
Nigel Maynard – 1 catch, 7 yards
Aric Johnson – 1 catch, 6 yards
8 for 75
Photos by Holly Peterson – Thunder Radio, Thunder The Magazine