The Ravenwood student section showed out in full force with a red, white, and blue patriotic theme as they prepared for their Raptors to take on the Patriots of Oakland. Oakland’s students traveled the hour-long drive well, making their presence known with drums and an impossible to miss neon theme.
This game would be a major barometer for two teams with state championship hopes. These could very well be the last two standing when the dust settles in the TSSAA 6A championship playoffs.
The Raptors, following the lead of their student section, came running out with 21 American flags flying in the wind in remembrance of 9/11, as they took the field two days away from the 21st anniversary of that tragic day.
The Raptors received the opening kickoff, and it was going to be imperative that they got off to a fast start against the powerhouse Patriots of Murfreesboro. Standout Ravenwood Quarterback, Chris Parson did just that, running for a 15-yard gain on the first play of the night, and then hit WR Ethan Smith down the sideline with a perfect 40-yard pass while being chased to his right. Parson capped off the drive with a touchdown running over a defender as he scored near the right pylon.
The tone had been set. It was now up to Oakland to respond. Respond they did, with a 30-yard touchdown run on their first play, courtesy of running back Tamari Hill. These two had the look of college teams and they were playing like it. Both teams were flying around with purpose and breakneck speed. Oakland’s offense used that speed for a near 60-yard gain on their second play of the night after a Raptor punt. They finished off the drive with a short touchdown run from QB Kade Hewitt, making it 14-7 Patriots.
As Oakland’s student section grew louder it was now up to Ravenwood to respond and return serve. Oakland’s defense stepped up and sacked the elusive Parson on first down. The Patriot student section celebrated with chants of “Overrated,” directed at Parson. Parson responded by breaking off a 45-yard run and completing a 35-yard pass to Colton Pace. Carter Pace then took it in from five yards out to make it 14-14. After a bobbled kickoff, Oakland was backed up inside their own 15 yard-line with under three minutes to go in the first quarter. The Oakland O-line was mauling their way to midfield as we went to the second quarter.
They picked up right where they left off as the second quarter began, opening chasms in the Raptor D-Line as they drove down inside the 20. The Raptor defense, willed forward by the deafening home fans with horns and cowbells, regrouped and held strong with a superhuman effort to stop the Patriots before they got inside the six yard-line for a first down. A field goal would make it 17-14 Oakland.
The Ravenwood offense smelled blood and came out on fire. It took five Patriots to bring Chris Parson down as he scrambled down the sideline. After a holding penalty the Raptors faced a 1st and 20 that they picked up after a spectacular play from Runningback, Kartuah Chapman. Parson then took it in himself to capitalize on the opportunity his defense gave him. Ravenwood was now in the lead 21-17.
They were in control. It couldn’t be going better for the Raptors; the only question was could they maintain that control against the back-to-back state champion Patriots. With the stands shaking, the Ravenwood defense engulfed Hewitt as he tried to escape on 3rd down. With 2:25 to go in the half, this was Ravenwood’s opportunity to open up this lead before kicking back to Oakland to start the second half.
Ravenwood did not come into this game afraid or intimidated by the Patriots and they were showing it. The Raptors regained the yardage from a beautiful 60-yard punt from Oakland in just two plays. Oakland’s defense stepped up in a big way and contained Parson, holding the Raptors to just a field goal making it 24-17 Ravenwood with a chance to tie it before half. Hewitt then hit Hill for what was almost a 70-yard touchdown that was just saved by a shoestring tackle inside the 5 yard-line. Oakland had 1 second left on the clock to tie the game from the 4 yard-line. Hewitt rumbled to the outside and gained the edge taking it in for his second touchdown of the game and tying the score at 24 all as the game went to halftime.
Going into the second half felt like the game was kicking off again for the first time. Which team was going to win the second half and the game? Which team was going to step up when it counted? Who was going to make the big, game-changing play? It felt like a defense would be the X-factor, but which one?
Hewitt and the Oakland O-line continued to gash the Ravenwood defense with a strong QB run game, taking it to the red zone quickly. Once again with their backs against the wall the Raptors defense came through, forcing the Patriots into a 4th down situation inside the 15-yard line. However, Oakland with a beautiful pitch play not only got the first but scored a touchdown making it 31-24 Patriots.
Parson took the field, after warming up on the cardio bike during a long Oakland drive, needing a score. When playing the best, you can’t let them take control of the game. You have to match blows. The Raptors instead punted back to Oakland.
The Patriots and Hewitt got to work with the same bruising rushing attack that had seemed to work all night. Once again, it seemed the Raptor defense rallied when it mattered and forced a fourth down at midfield, but The Patriots picked it up with a trick play inside handoff that turned into a pass. This fooled the entire Ravenwood defense, and the Patriots picked up the first plus some green grass. Ravenwood showing incredible heart forced another 4th down. 4th down and 10 from the 30 was Oakland’s task and not an easy one at that, but Oakland, showing its experience, was not phased. The Patriots picked up the 1st down and scored with a strike from Hewitt as he was being hit. It was now 38-24 Oakland.
As the 4th quarter began Ravenwood was in desperate need of a score. Parson led his troops down the field picking up a fourth down going into the redzone. Carter Pace then darted into the end zone to bring the Raptors within a touchdown. The game was coming down to the wire and it was going to be up to the Ravenwood defense, who had come so close on the previous two drives, to give the ball back to Carson, Pace, and the Raptor offense. Could they finally make the play and turn over the Patriots?
They started off the right way blowing up Oaklands first play in the backfield and then forcing an incompletion. The stands came alive. This was the opportunity The Raptors needed. They capitalized with an impressive show of speed from the Ravenwood defender tracking Hewitt to the sideline and bringing him down to make it 4th and 12. Oakland’s punter again came up huge blasting a punt that covered 70 yards. The Raptors were going to have to drive the length of the field starting at the four.
After a few good runs they were turned away by Oakland. The experienced Patriots from Murfreesboro were stepping up in the biggest moments. They began driving, looking to put the game away with five minutes remaining. With 2:23 remaining in the game, CJ Puckett plunged into the end zone for Oakland making it 45-31.
Ravenwood would try to score again but ran out of time and downs. The final score would remain 45-31 Oakland.
Oakland’s poise and experience were too much for Ravenwood in the fourth quarter. The three 4th down conversions in a row ended up being the difference. Every time the Patriots needed a big play they got it. Their coaching was excellent and their resolve unbreakable. These are two extremely impressive and equally as fun to watch teams. If they meet again in the post-season it will be appointment viewing.
Our MVP for the game is Oakland Quarterback, Kade Hewitt. Kade had three touchdowns on the night and was a huge part of all three 4th down attempts the Patriots converted. Those plays kept Parson off the field and were really the difference in the game. One of those plays in particular Kade got tall in the pocket and delivered a strike for a 30-yard touchdown as he was being hit. Kade set the example for the resolve his team showed tonight. Kade had this to say about the win and Oakland as a whole after the game:
“I think this was a great test for Oakland as a whole program, and we came out and we executed really well, and we made some mistakes, but we came out and played Oakland football and that fourth quarter really showed who we are as a program…We’re big on family. This is not a football team this is a family.”