PREP FOOTBALL: Fourth quarter comeback not enough for Raiders


GOOD HOPE – Playing well in the fourth quarter has been displayed by the Good Hope Raiders in the first two games of the 2014 football season. It hasn't been enough for the Raiders to overcome mistakes as they fell to 0-2 on the season when they dropped a 29-24 battle to Westminster Christian at James Shabel Stadium.


Turnovers stood out that became the difference for the Raiders as two fumbles killed excellent scoring opportunities. Field position also became an advantage to the visitor from Huntsville when they scored on two touchdown drives late in the first half to give the Wildcats a comfortable advantage at halftime.


Jared McClure shook off a fumble on the first series for Good Hope that he dropped inside the Westminster 20 by going 63 yards on a run up the middle with 1:48 to play in the first quarter. This came after the Wildcats had kicked a field goal to take the early lead.


His score sent the Raiders in front 6-3 with Good Hope holding on to the advantage until the final 2:44 of the second stanza.


William Fikes ripped through a hole for a 33-yard touchdown and the extra point from David Teitge made it 10-6 in favor of the Wildcats.


Westminster got the ball back and drove 66 yards to increase the lead to 17-6. The touchdown came on an eight-yard pass from Jared Smith to Ian McCoy with a second left on the first half clock.


Good Hope's defense rose to the opportunity when they dropped the Westminster punter on a bad exchange at the Wildcat 10-yard line early in the third period. 


After a gain of seven to the three, McClure lost the ball on the next snap with Westminster players diving on it in the end zone that resulted in a touchback. That took a potential TD off the board and kept the Raiders down 17-6.


Two more field goals from Teitge allowed the Wildcats to move out to a 23-6 lead when the Raiders started their fourth quarterback comeback.


Kainan Smith hauled in a 39-yard pass from Riley Eisner with 8:00 to go and the Raiders were behind 23-12. A fumble on the next series for the Wildcats put the Raiders in excellent opportunity to score.


McClure was free for 31 yards that had a face mask tacked on to it for 15 more with the Raiders now getting near the Wildcat end zone. Smith took a 10-yard pass from Eisner and the Raiders were down 23-18 with 7:00 to go.


But Westminster answered with a touchdown on a yard-run by Tomoka Nelson thanks to field position when the Raiders had a short kickoff. The conversion failed and the Wildcats were up 29-18 as the game had 4:30 left to be played.


Once again the Raiders made their move. With Reese Harbison returning the ball up to the 49, Good Hope struck quickly. A 41-yard pass to Harbison got them close for McClure to take it in from the five with 2:58 remaining. Good Hope was down 29-24.


Then the Raiders' Jonathan Burnette recovered the onside kick and Chris Moss' squad had the ball and plenty of time to come back and win, starting at midfield.


However, the drive stalled and the Raiders turned it over on downs after an Eisner pass fell incomplete on fourth and 14 at the Westminster 35. The Wildcats ran off the final 1:14 and moved to 2-0 on the season while the Raiders suffered their second straight close loss in front of the home fans.


For the game, McClure rushed for 170 yards on 21 carries and had two touchdowns. Eisner completed seven of 13 passes in the fourth period for 179 yards and two touchdowns to Smith.


Smith caught two in the period for 49 yards and the TDs, Harbison had three receptions during the fourth for 76 yards with one throw going to McClure that gained 31 yards.


Now the Raiders play their first game of the season on the road. They travel to Galbreath Stadium Friday to meet the Oneonta Redskins. The Redskins are 1-1 after a 34-21 victory in regional play on Friday night against DAR.


 Game time in Oneonta will be at 7 p.m.