By Sam McGaw
A victory looked far out of reach for the Ravenwood Raptors entering the fourth quarter of Thursday’s season-opening matchup at Siegel.
Facing a nine-point deficit, the defending Class 6A state champion Raptors leaned on the arm of quarterback McCain Marrow to rally for two touchdowns in the final eight minutes for a 23-19 win.
“The most impressive thing is these young men have fight and heart,” Ravenwood first-year head coach Richie Wessman said. “We’ve been preaching for a long time that with a championship mentality, you take games one play at a time, no matter what adversity comes your way.
“Our guys sure as heck did that tonight.”
Marrow’s 37-yard touchdown strike to a streaking Anthony Holmes gave the Raptors (1-0) the go-ahead score with 4:52 remaining.
“I was thinking the whole time we were going to score,” Marrow said. “We had ran that play a drive or two before, and Anthony Holmes told me he’s had his guy beat on that play and that he was going to be wide open. Before the touchdown, I glanced over there and there he was, wide open.”
Marrow finished with 24-of-38 passes completed for 422 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
His first touchdown pass was an 8-yard throw to wide receiver Nate Freeman to cut Siegel’s lead down to 19-17 with eight minutes to go.
Freeman finished with four receptions for 125 yards. His 71-yard reception on a screen pass early in the third quarter set up a 22-yard field goal by Jim Roebuck for a 12-10 deficit.
Wide receiver John Rall added seven catches for 125 yards, while Seth Smeltz had seven grabs for 95 yards.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work ethic they put in and how they truly stepped up,” Wessman said about his receivers. “It’s really an incredible unit. Their growth has been so tremendous since the spring. They’re really just coming in to being complete football players, and there’s a lot of them that can make a good football play. That makes you really hard to play against.”
A 67-yard touchdown pass from Brendon Crowell to Elijah Watson put Siegel (0-1) up 19-10 with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
It was the only score the Raptors’ defense gave up in the second half.
“We got a pretty good beat on them and what they were doing,” Wessman said. “We made a couple of tweaks with just how we were going to run fit. That really caused Siegel some problems. They got us on two long plays, but other than that I feel like our defense did a pretty good job.”
A sack by Tahj Williams forced Siegel to punt on its possession with 3:37 left in the game. He finished with six tackles and a fumble recovery.
Carter Nelson gave the Raptors their first lead of the game on the first play of the second quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 7-3 advantage.
Their lead was cut to 7-5 on a safety caused by a high snap with just under three minutes left in the frame.
Running back Rodney Murray pushed the Stars ahead 12-7 with a 16-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds left in the first half.
He closed with 128 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@SamMcGawSports.