By SAM McGAW Photos by DEB SCALLY
The Ravenwood Raptors were reacquainted with an old friend Friday — the mercy rule.
With 39 unanswered points in the second quarter against Lebanon (1-6, 0-4), the Raptors secured a running clock for the second half en route to a 49-3 win at home.
It was the first time in nearly a year the defending Class 6A state champions led by enough points (35+) to enact the mercy rule.
“It’s exciting when we’re starting to do things the right way,” Ravenwood head coach Richie Wessman said. “You can feel something special starting to happen. We have to keep taking it a day at a time and hopefully we’ll keep getting better.”
The dominant performance is the Raptors’ second straight victory after they started the season 2-3. More importantly, it puts them at 3-1 in Region 3-6A entering the final three weeks of the season.
“We’ve really put it together after the bye week,” said Ravenwood wide receiver John Rall, who’s caught five touchdown passes over the last two games. “Our o-line is doing a much better job, our quarterback is slinging the ball around and we’re getting the run game going.”
Miscues piled on for the Raptors throughout the first half, including four touchdowns that were negated due to penalties.
“You have to like the intensity and enthusiasm of someone wanting to help their teammates score, but it’s something we have to clean up,” Wessman said.
Defensive end Tahj Williams had two touchdowns called back. His first came on a fumble return during Lebanon’s opening drive and the second happened when he returned a blocked punt to the house.
“I don’t know what I needed to do to get a touchdown,” Williams joked.
The Raptors had to settle for a tie at 3 entering the second quarter after Williams’ fumble return and a 10-yard touchdown run by Blake Van Landingham were called back.
After struggling to get out of their own way, the Raptors finally received a push when Ontario Rice took a punt return to the Lebanon 7-yard line early in the second quarter.
Running back Carter Nelson capitalized a couple of plays later with an 11-yard touchdown run for a 10-3 lead.
Nelson scored on the play prior to the TD, but that was also called back due to a penalty.
The rout was on from there.
Safeties on back-to-back Lebanon drives and a 32-yard touchdown run by D’Angelo Rice pushed the Raptors ahead 21-3 with five minutes left in the half.
“I felt like this game was turning in our favor after the second safety,” Williams said.
Rall snagged touchdown receptions of 26 and 6 yards on back-to-back drives for a 35-3 lead with 47 seconds remaining in the half.
Ramez Ibrahim’s interception return to the Lebanon 6 set up a touchdown connection from McCain Marrow to Griffin Lau with four seconds left.
“We’re continuing to find creative ways to use our personnel to beat the other guys,” Wessman stated. “The more these guys are in the system, the more we can adapt and change from week to week and that only gives us an advantage.
Kyle Briggs capped the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the fourth quarter.