Bacon County jumped out to a 21-point advantage over Metter and then had to hang on for a 28-25 victory in the Region 2-AA opener for both squads last Friday.
Bacon County (1-1 overall, 1-0 region) built a seemingly commanding 28-7 lead in the third quarter before the proverbial “wheels started coming off.” Metter (0-2, 0-1) capitalized on the Red Raiders’ mistakes to make things interesting.
“We finally got things going in the second quarter and up until about the five-minute mark of the third,” said head coach Bobby Johns. “We’re driving in for a touchdown that would have given us a 35-7 lead until a holding penalty hurts us. From that point on we couldn’t block them (Tigers) and we couldn’t stop them.
“It was just one of those games where we lost the momentum and couldn’t get it back. We were very lucky to hang on and get the win.
A week after losing six fumbles in the season opener against PCHS, Bacon County did not put the ball on the ground in this one. It was penalties that stalled drives. The Red Raiders were flagged 14 times.
The two teams combined for 21 penalties for 160 yards. Bacon County was flagged four times on one of Metter’s late touchdown drives for 35 yards.
“That (penalties) really slowed down several drives for us,” said Johns. “Some I just don’t know about. We were called for two low blocks and we were the ones that got chopped by the defender. Some were when we lost our composure.”
The Tigers, who won the first four meetings in the series, scored on their opening drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Wedincamp to Justin Parrish.
“They scored first on a busted coverage,” said Johns.
Bacon County finally got things rolling late in the first stanza that led to a touchdown on the first snap of the second period. Matt Thrift kept the ball scoring on a 19-yard run. The PAT by T.J. Wiley failed leaving the Red Raiders in a 7-6 hole.
Nose guard Anthony Florence scooped up a Metter fumble and sprinted 31 yards for Bacon County’s next score. Thrift ran in the two-point conversion giving the Red Raiders the lead for good at 14-7.
Just before intermission, Bacon County tacked on another score when Thrift found Drell Greene on a four-yard scoring toss. Wiley split the uprights for a 21-7 advantage.
It took the Red Raiders nearly eight minutes of the third quarter to finally punch in their next score. Fullback Dejaun Merritt bulled his way 15 yards on the dive play with Wiley’s PAT upping the Bacon advantage to 28-7.
The next series for the Red Raiders would end inside the Metter 20. A penalty on a first-and-goal inside the 10 pushed the ball back out to the 20. The drive stalled when Bacon was unable to convert on a fourth-and-goal from the Tigers’ 17.
“That was really the turning point of the game,” said Johns. “Their (Tigers) coach’s son broke his ankle during that series and then things went bad for us. We could not move the ball the rest of the night.
“We were pinned deep in our territory the rest of the game. We just tried to survive. I just can’t understand why we can’t put teams away, though.”
The Tigers stormed back scoring three times in a 10-minute span.
“We didn’t tackle on the first touchdown,” Johns said, “then we have a punt blocked because we only 10 players on the field and then give up a pass for another score.”
Metter senior fullback Harry Kato spurred the comeback attempt with a pair of touchdown runs. A missed PAT after the first touchdown in the forth forced the Tigers to try for two the rest night.
After pulling to 28-19, Metter got its final touchdown with 3:55 remaining on a Wedincamp to Parrish 14-yard touchdown pass.
Bacon County took the ensuing kick and ran out the remainder of the clock to get off on the right foot in region play.
The Red Raiders did control the tempo of the game holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer than Metter.