LESTER, Ala. – The Good Hope Raiders traveled to Lester to take on the West Limestone Wildcats in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs. In what turned out to be a low-scoring affair, the Raiders wound up dropping the game 21-12 to the Wildcats.
Good Hope got the ball to start the game and got a first down on a Tanner Malin 11-yard run on third down, but they fumbled on the next play and West Limestone recovered the ball. The Raider defense forced a three-and-out on its first possession. The running game started to get going on its next possession, as Malin and Colton Bagwell each picked up first downs during the series, but another fumble stalled the drive. The Wildcats found the end zone on an 8-yard run to take a 7-0 lead with 5:14 remaining in the opening quarter.
Good Hope looked to answer on its next possession and started at the 23-yard line. Malin, Bagwell and Eli Pugh led a punishing running attack and Bagwell picked up a key first down on fourth during the drive. On play no. 13, Bagwell found the end zone from 4 yards out to make it a 7-6 game. After forcing another punt, the Raiders looked to strike gold once again and they would do just that when Malin found a huge hole on the right side and made a nice juke move before taking off down the right sideline for a 57-yard score to give the Raiders a 12-7 lead.
However, West Limestone answered on its next drive, scoring on a 33-yard run to get the lead right back at 14-12. Good Hope looked to retake the lead before the half and behind huge runs by Malin and Pugh, plus a 12-yard reception by Bagwell, got to the 13. But a block-in-the-back penalty quickly brought the drive to a halt and they wound up falling just short of the end zone; the score remained the same at the half.
The second half saw West Limestone get in the end zone on its opening possession as a 7-yard touchdown pass extended the Raider deficit to 21-12. Good Hope looked to answer on its first possession and the running game continued to wear down the Wildcat defense, plus Malin completed a pair of huge passes to Burns for 6 and 7 yards, respectively, and the Raiders got to the 34-yard line. But Malin threw an interception to end the drive and West Limestone got the ball at the 5-yard line.
The Wildcats drove the ball down the field on its next drive, but the Raider defense stiffened and blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt. Good Hope continued to stick to its game plan on the next drive and Malin completed a pass to Burns for 25 yards that ended up putting the Raiders at the 24-yard line, but Malin fell just a couple of yards on fourth down and turned the ball over on downs.
After forcing a West Limestone punt, the Raiders looked to mount a late comeback, but after getting to the 30-yard line, penalties and a sack saw Good Hope go backward and turn the ball over on downs. The Raiders ended up falling by a score of 21-12, finishing the season with a 10-2 record.
Malin finished the game with 194 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown for Good Hope while Bagwell added 103 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Burns ended up with four receptions for 42 yards.
Despite the loss, head coach Alan Scott was still proud of his team for continuing to fight and play hard.
“West Limestone just out-played, out-coached us a little bit,” Scott said. “Our guys fought like they always do, so I’m very proud of their effort.”
Scott got very emotional talking about his seniors and about the season.
“I’m going to miss coaching these seniors very much,” he said. “They’re a great group of guys. They’ve got great heart and great character. They love one another and they’ve made me very proud to be their coach over the last few years. I’m very thankful. God’s been good to us and so we want to give Him all the glory. Fantastic season, fantastic group of guys. So, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Several seniors played their final game at Good Hope, including Colton Bagwell and Jared and Eli Pugh, but the Raiders will have a lot of key players returning next season in hopes of returning to the playoffs.
Copyright 2020 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.