By Josh Peterson, publisher
Finishing drives will certainly be the message moving forward for the Coffee County Middle School Red Raider football team after Tuesday night.
The Red Raider offense marched inside the Harris Middle School 1-yard line to start the game and again moved inside the Harris 10 on their first possession of the second half – however penalties and negative plays cost the Raiders those drives and subsequently the game in a 34-6 loss to the visiting Golden Eagles at Carden-Jarrell Field.
“We obviously have to capitalize when we get to the opponent’s 1-yard line,” said CMS head coach Bryan Morgan after the loss dropped the Raiders to 0-4 on the season. “We have to block better and get the ball in the endzone.”
Coffee Middle opened the game well, marching the ball 57 yards on nine plays to get to the Harris 1-yard line. But a negative play on second-and-goal and a false start on fourth and goal left the Raiders at the Harris 6, where quarterback Connor Shemwell’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“We had some penalties hurt us tonight,” added Morgan. “We have to finish drives.”
Harris answered the squandered opportunity by scoring just seven plays later on a 24-yard quarterback run by Kade Cunningham, who scored on runs of 24 and 27 and also passed for 104 yards in the winning effort.
Trailing 20-0 at the half, CMS’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the third quarter and again the offense marched, moving to the Harris 7-yard line on 13 plays. But CMS tailback Kelby Walker was caught 4-yards deep in the backfield on second down, Shemwell’s third down pass fell to the turf and Walker was slung for a 3-yard loss on fourth down to kill the drive.
Harris answered by effectively ending the game with a quick 86-yard, 7-play scoring drive highlighted by a 29-yard pass from Cunningham to Khi Harris and a 37-yard pass from Cunningham to Gavin Day. Khi Harris capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run – he also threw a touchdown pass and rushed for 99 yards on 11 totes.
The Red Raiders finally scored with 3:29 left in the game on a Shemwell 5-yard rumble up the middle.
Walker led the CMS offense with 90 yards on 24 carries and one catch for -2 yards. Ethan Baker rushed 12 times for 44 yards before leaving the game with an injury and Shemwell had 17 yards on the ground and was 2-of-6 through the air for 2 yards.
“We have to find a way to get the ball outside better,” Morgan said. “Right now all we can do is move it up the middle.”
Laquan Young accounted for the Eagles’ final touchdown, a 59-yard run late in the fourth quarter.