HANCEVILLE – Good Hope and Hanceville faced off in the regular season finale at a foggy Ray Talley Stadium Friday evening, each looking to snap respective losing streaks. In the end, it was the Raiders that emerged victorious, 29-0.
Good Hope forced Hanceville into a quick three-and-out on the first series. Good Hope started at its own 39-yard line for the Raiders’ first offensive series of the game. And it went to perfection as freshman Colton Bagwell and senior Will Dickerson carried the load, gaining all 61 yards on the drive; Dickerson finished it off with a 21-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to put the Raiders on the scoreboard with 6:21 remaining in the first. Both defenses held firm for the rest of the quarter.
Hanceville was forced to punt to start the second, and the Raiders started in excellent field position at the Bulldog 36-yard line. They faced a fourth-and-7 at the 33, and junior Preston Bagwell found senior Kyle Carlton for a 12-yard pickup, keeping the drive alive. Colton Bagwell gained 16 yards on the ground to put Good Hope at the 5-yard line. After a false start penalty moved the Raiders back to the 10, both Bagwells went to work. Preston Bagwell got 4 yards on the keeper, then Colton Bagwell went in for the 6-yard score to give the Raiders a 15-0 lead with 7:09 remaining in the first half.
Carlton picked off a Bo Joles pass on the next series, putting Good Hope at the Hanceville 45-yard line. It was more of the same for the Raiders on the next series as they continued to pound the ball on the ground behind Colton Bagwell, Dickerson and Matthew Dixon, who returned after missing last week with a sprained ankle. The trio helped moved the ball closer and closer to the end zone, and Carlton added a 7-yard reception during the series. Colton Bagwell finished the drive with a 5-yard scamper as he went untouched to increase the Raider lead to 21-0 with 2:11 remaining in the half. They looked to add more off another Bulldog punt, which put them at the 30. Back-to-back runs by Preston Bagwell put the Raiders at their own 48-yard line, but Romael Simmons picked off a Preston Bagwell pass. Halftime hit with Good Hope up, 21-0.
The Bulldogs looked for anything they could do to help jump-start their team, and it looked like that would be the case as they recovered an outside kick at the Good Hope 47-yard line to start the second half, but they quickly went backward, and they were forced to punt. The defenses for both sides started to kick in for most of the third quarter, but off another Bulldog punt, Good Hope looked to capitalize at its own 47-yard line. Matthew Schwaiger got the drive off to a great start as he gained 30 yards around the right side to put the Raiders at the 17, and Preston Bagwell picked up a key first down on a third-and-2, putting them at the 6-yard line. Schwaiger and Colton Bagwell got the final yards, including a 2-yard run by the latter, and that put the score at 29-0. Hanceville never gave up, and looked for its first score of the game as R.J. Evans kept chugging, never stopping his fight for yardage, but he got stopped short on a fourth down. Good Hope finished the game with a senior, Tucker Putman, carrying the ball for 6 yards.
Final score: Good Hope 29, Hanceville 0
Colton Bagwell finished with 128 yards on 23 carries and three scores for Good Hope. Dickerson added 54 on nine carries and a touchdown. Dixon added 32 on five carries in the first half. He re-injured his ankle in the first half and did not return for the rest of the game. Schwaiger added 34 on a pair of touches, and Leverett had 33 on five touches as the Raiders rushed for 307 yards on the night and the defense finished strong, holding the Bulldogs to just 96 yards of total offense. The Raiders finished the season 4-6, the same record they had in 2014, their first year in Class 4A, improving from 0-10 last year.
"I'm really proud of these kids for sticking with it," Good Hope coach Alan Scott said. "This has been a tough season with injuries, but the kids continued to play hard. Our offensive line did a great job, opening up holes for our running backs. Our defense really showed up tonight. It was a team effort tonight. I liked that we ended our season on a winning note, and we are already looking towards next season, seeing what we need to improve on and how we can get better. The four seniors: Putman, Carlton, Mason Moniz and Dickerson, they worked really hard this season. I love them to death. I hate to see them go, but I'm looking forward to see what the future holds for them."
Evans finished with 50 yards on 13 carries for Hanceville, who finished its second season under Craig Flanigan, 1-9, without a region win. The Bulldogs look to build on what was a very young team this season and look forward to a brighter year in 2018.
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