PREP FOOTBALL: Good Hope’s playoff run ends with 35-28 loss to No. 1 Madison Academy

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Good Hope QB Tanner Malin finished with 180 yards and a touchdown through the air in the Raiders’ 35-28 loss to Madison Academy Friday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

GOOD HOPE, Ala. – The Good Hope Raiders were back on the field at James W. Shabel Stadium Friday night and playing in the quarterfinals for just the fourth time in school history. They welcomed top-ranked Madison Academy to town with a spot in the final four on the line and after falling behind 21-0 to the Mustangs early, the Raiders rallied to tie the game at 28 midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the home crowd, Madison Academy was able to score and pull ahead 35-28 with just over three minutes on the clock, Good Hope was unable to answer, and the Mustangs escaped with a hard-fought win over the Raiders.

Good Hope Head Coach Alan Scott is proud of the way his team responded after falling behind early but wasn’t surprised to see it. Scott commended this year’s team for the heart, determination and will they’ve shown throughout the entire season and again Friday night.

“Our guys have so much character and grit. Most teams that go down 21-0 right out of the gate would just fold. These guys are not quitters, they’re champions, and we just ran out of time tonight,” Scott said. “Hats off to Madison Academy, they’re a great program, but I love our guys. There’s no other place I’d rather be than Good Hope and there’s no group of kids I’d rather coach than these guys. They’re awesome, I love these seniors.”

Madison Academy received the game’s opening kick off and finished an impressive opening drive in the end zone to take a 7-0 lead with just a few minutes gone in the first quarter. A fumbled snap on the Raiders’ first offensive play set up the Mustangs offense with great field position and they ran another one into the end zone just a few plays later to make it 14-0 with seven minutes to play in the first. Good Hope was forced to punt on its next possession and Madison Academy took just two plays to connect on a 73-yard touchdown pass and stretch the lead to 21-0 late in the opening quarter.

An interception in the end zone cut the next Raiders’ drive short but Good Hope’s defense was able to force the Mustangs to punt on their next possession and got the ball back in the hands of the offense. That’s when the Raiders started to pick up some yardage and create momentum. Good Hope capped off its first scoring drive of the night with a 10-yard touchdown run by Ethan Anderson and trimmed the lead to 21-7 with just over eight minutes to play in the first half. Good Hope’s defense stepped up and made another stop to force another Mustangs punt and the Raiders’ offense came back onto the field with just over four minutes remaining in the second quarter. A big pass over the middle to Paydon Bagwell moved Good Hope near midfield and a few plays later, Malin hit Jager Burns in the back corner of the end zone for another Raiders touchdown. Burns was able to make the catch one-handed, pinned against his back and after the extra point, Madison Academy’s lead was down to 21-14 with less than two minutes on the clock in the first half. The Mustangs were unable to answer, and Good Hope went into the locker room at halftime trialing by just seven.

The Raiders received the ball to start the third quarter and put together a long, methodical scoring drive that ended with another touchdown run from Anderson and tied the game at 21 with eight minutes to play in the third. Madison Academy responded with a scoring drive of its own and punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to pull back in front 28-21 late in the third. The Mustangs’ drive took nearly seven minutes off the clock.

Good Hope took over possession with just over a minute to play in the third quarter and Malin took off for a big gain up the middle to start the drive with some momentum. Faced with 4th-and-2 later in the drive, Anderson took a handoff up the middle for 10 yards to move the chains and finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 28 midway through the fourth quarter. However, the Mustangs were able to finish off a scoring drive of their own and retook a 35-28 lead with just over three minutes to play. Anderson took the ensuing kickoff out to midfield and the Raiders’ offense took the field with once more chance to tie the game. A 5-yard run from Malin on 4th-and-4 extended Good Hope’s drive with just over a minute to play but a bad snap on the next play put the Raiders well behind the chains. An incomplete pass on fourth down a few plays later gave the ball back to Madison Academy and ended Good Hope’s stellar playoff run in round three.

Malin finished the game 17/28 for 180 yards and a touchdown. Anderson racked up 116 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Burns caught two passes for 35 yards and a touchdown and Charlie O’Neil added eight catches for 84 yards.

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