Friday night was big play or bust for the Central High School Red Raider football team. In the end – the Raiders scraped together enough big plays to beat Rockvale 20-14.
Unofficially, Coffee County only managed 222 yards of offense on the night. But defense, special teams and a pair of big plays proved to be the difference.
Sophomore tailback Konor Heaton, who was filling in for an injured Marshall Haney, put the game away with 2:32 to play when he broke loose on a fourth-and-1 run and rumbled 37 yards for a touchdown score to put the Raiders up 20-7. Ian Welden’s extra point was blocked.
Heaton’s run was the first score for the Raiders since the first quarter.
The Raiders jumped on top 7-0 with 3:40 to play in the first quarter when Raider quarterback Connor Shemwell connected with Travis Martin in the seam. Martin raced 79-yards for a score. Then just four plays later, Henry Garcia blocked a Rockvale punt, then scooped the ball and rumbled into the end zone to put the Raiders up 14-0 late in the first.
Garcia later added an interception as part of a Raider defense that bent, but didn’t break for most of the night. In the first half Rockvale got inside the red zone three times (twice inside the 10 yard line) – but the Raiders forced a missed field goal, then a turnover on downs, and linebacker Tristan Galy forced a fumble that was recovered by Zack Galy.
Rockvale finished with 301 yards of total offense.
The win is the first road win on the season or Coffee County, and moves the Raiders back to .500 at 3-3 and 2-2 in Region 3-6A, which keeps the Raiders alive in the postseason picture.
The Raiders return home next Friday, Oct. 9, to host Maplewood in a non-region tilt. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on Thunder Radio.
Garcia was named Mid Tenn Turf player of the Game on the Thunder Radio broadcast.
Listen to the game again.
Click here for the first half.
Click here for the second half.