GOOD HOPE, Ala. – The Good Hope Raiders are in the playoffs for the third straight season, and for the first time in 12 years, they hosted a first-round game. Their opponent: the North Jackson Chiefs. Behind a stingy defense and a solid running game, Good Hope rolled past North Jackson, 33-8, to move on to round two.
The Raider defense forced a turnover on downs to start out the game. On its first offensive series, Good Hope got the running game started early when Tanner Malin picked up a huge first down on a third-down play. Later on in the drive, Malin completed back-to-back passes, one to Charlie O’Neil for 6 yards and the other one to Jager Burns for 29 yards on fourth down. That last pass put them at the 1, and Malin took it in on the next play to give Good Hope an 8-0 lead.
North Jackson countered on its next series with an 11-yard quarterback keeper, tying the game at 8. But the Raiders looked to break the tie on their next possession. After getting a first down, Malin got sacked for a 7-yard loss, but he quickly made up for it on the next play with some nice juke moves before taking off for the end zone, scoring on a 36-yard run to give Good Hope a 14-8 lead with 1:08 to go in the first quarter.
Another turnover on downs gave the ball back to the Raiders and after a huge run by Colton Bagwell, the Chiefs got called for a personal foul on the next play. Bagwell and Eli Pugh took over from there on the ground, and the latter finished off the drive with a 3-yard run to make it a 21-8 lead with 8:15 to go in the first half.
Good Hope got the ball back after a Chiefs punt, and the running game wore down North Jackson’s defense on its next series when Pugh took it in from 8 yards out to stretch the lead to 27-8. The defense forced the Chiefs to turn the ball over on downs once again and the Raiders went into the half up 27-8.
The second half saw both defenses step up, and neither team saw the end zone again until late in the fourth quarter, when Bagwell sealed the 33-8 win for Good Hope with a 2-yard run. The Raiders improve to 10-1 overall.
Bagwell finished with 146 yards on 31 carries and a pair of scores for Good Hope. Malin added 74 yards on the ground and two touchdowns and Pugh ended up with 19 yards and a score. Doston Putman and Pugh each got a sack in the game for the Raiders and Jorge Estudillo recovered a fumble.
Good Hope head coach Alan Scott was proud of his team and the way they played at home.
“It feels fantastic,” Scott said. “Our guys played so well. North Jackson has a really good football team. They’re explosive on offense and they get after you on defense. I thought our coaches did a great job getting our guys ready and they executed, so I’m very proud of them. That’s a great way to start the playoffs. We were able to run the ball effectively on them; Tanner made some good reads and Colton ran the ball very hard today. Our defense bent, but we didn’t really break. I’m very proud of that and holding them to eight points. I’m just tickled to death.”
Scott will look to have the Raiders prepared to take on a tough West Limestone team on the road next Friday night in round two of the AHSAA 4A state playoffs.
“I know one of their wide receivers is going to Georgia Tech,” Scott said. “They’ve got a really big offensive line and they’ve won 10 games just like we have, so they’re a good football team. So the same things that win you football games, that’s what we’ve got to do next week: hang on to the football, be physical up front and play hard on defense.”
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