By Josh Peterson, publisher
Coffee County’s offense scored on five of its first seven possessions against visiting Siegel Friday night.
But the last three possessions didn’t go as well.
After Raider Alontae Taylor bulled his way into the end zone 11 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Coffee County a 35-29 lead, the Raider offense went cold, failing to score on their final three possessions and Siegel pulled in front to win 43-35 at Carden-Jarrell Field.
“We played well as a team and we kept the ball in our hands and kept Siegel off the field, and that was the game plan, we just have to finish,” said Taylor after the game.
Coffee County had one possession with 10 minutes left and a chance to take the lead and two possessions in the final seven minutes to potentially tie the game, but all three failed. The first ended in a three-and-out (the only three-and-out for the Raiders all night), the second ended in a turnover on downs at the Siegel 23 with 2:28 to play and the third ended when time expired as Taylor’s Hail Mary from midfield was intercepted at the goal line.
“In reality, our defense played really well and gave us [a chance at the end],” said CHS head coach Ryan Sulkowski. “We had a coverage breakdown at the end of the first half and had that not happened, it might be a little different outcome we are talking about.”
The breakdown came with less than a minute to play in the first half. Siegel took over at its own 20, trailing 20-16, and two plays into the possession Caleb Bull got behind the Raider defense and hauled in a deep ball from quarterback Brendan Crowell for a 69-yard score to put the Stars up 22-21 at halftime.
Slow and steady
Coffee County (2-7 overall) controlled the clock – winning time of possession 29:45 to 18:15 over the Stars (4-5 overall). The Raiders set the pace early, opening the game with a 14-play, 6 minute drive that ended with a Taylor quarterback sneak for a score.
Six different Raiders carried the ball on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead.
“We have been doing [this option style] but we added a twist, adjusted our splits a little bit,” explained Sulkowski. “We did [gash them inside] really all game.”
Taylor finished the game with 92 yards on 25 carries and two scores. He also returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score early in the third quarter to make the score 29-27 Siegel at the time.
“We came out swinging,” said Taylor. “I feel like we outplayed them and our coaches outcoached them.”
The Raiders scored on five of their first seven possessions – one ending in a fumble inside the red zone and the other as time expired in the first half.
“They were able to flip the field on that fumble [because they scooped it and ran it back to the other side of the field],” said Sulkowski. “We want to control the clock and secure the football, and we preach that. We have to eliminate those critical mistakes.”
Andrew Mahaffey scored the second Red Raider touchdown of the night, barreling through defenders for a 17 yard score with 7:48 to play in the first half, pulling the Raiders to within 18-14. Mahaffey scored again on the following possession, closing the drive with runs of 10, 9 and 6, the latter going in the end zone.
Mahaffey finished the game with 88 yards on 11 carries and two scores. He also caught a pass for 6 yards.
“Andrew had it going tonight and we were able to get him the ball and rest Deaaron [Rozier] a little bit,” said Sulkowski.
Most of the offense for Siegel was produced by Lelan Wilhoite, who rushed for 192 yards on 26 totes. He scored four touchdowns – runs of 2, 1, 2 and 24.
“He is a division 1 running back,” said Sulkowski. “So it isn’t hard for him to find a seam and get going.”
Record Breaking night
Despite the loss, it was a record-breaking night for Taylor. With his first rush – a 4-yard quarterback keeper – he surpassed the career rushing record at Coffee County set by Chris Elam. His first touchdown broke Elam’s career touchdown record of 67.
“Credit goes to God because without him I wouldn’t be here and with my teammates and my coaches,” said Taylor. “I couldn’t accomplish this record breaking on my own. I had a whole lot of offensive linemen from my freshman year to my senior year who helped me get this. I’d like to thank them and all the people who blocked for me.”
Coffee County rushing:
Alontae Taylor – 25 for 92 yards, 2 touchdowns
Deaaron Rozier – 19 for 115 yards
Andrew Mahaffey – 11 for 88 yards, 2 touchdowns
Cameron West – 6 for 39 yards
Hayden Skipper – 2 for 8 yards
Coffee County passing
Taylor – 5-13, 47 yards
Coffee County receiving
Zach Vaughn – 4 for 41 yards
Andrew Mahaffey – 1 for 6 yards
Lelan Wilhoite – 26 for 192 yards, 4 touchdowns
Brendan Crowell – 3 for 10 yards
Crowell – 7-12 for 142 yards, 2 touchdowns
Wilhoite – 1 for 11 yards
Shamar Vanzant – 2 for 20 yards, 1 touchdown
Evan Milligan – 1 for 5 yards
Caleb Bull – 1 for 69 yards, 1 touchdown
Freddie Owens – 2 for 37 yards
Coffee County Penalties
Five for 45 yards
Five for 30 yards
Time of Possession
Coffee County – 29:45
Siegel – 18:15