This year's battle for Carter County's football crown was worth more than its weight in gold, a tug-of-war affair to attain a coveted first win.
Despite 22 second-half points by the Comets, East Carter (1-6) put its faith in a batch of first half points to pick up the 27-22 victory.
The Saturday night football special served up an important number of firsts, including not just the Raiders first win in 19 games, but also the first win for 2nd year East Carter Head Coach Zack Moore.
“All the credit goes to our kids,” said Moore. “Everything right now is a less for us. Learn how to keep the pedal down until the clock strikes zero. It’s going to be hard to take this smile off my face because it’s been so long since we’ve won here, and I can’t tell you how much this means our program.”
Things did not start well for the Comets when the Raiders recovered a fumble just outside the red zone. The one-two backfield punch of Chase Steele and Cade Stidham took just five plays to find the game’s first score when Steele snuck in for a seven-yard touchdown.
Stidham was particularly effective on the night, carrying the ball 22 times for 120 yards.
Following a 30-yard field goal by Huddle to give the Raiders a 10-0 advantage halfway through the first, East Carter quarterback Donovan Roe found a streaking Zach Parsons for a big-time connection of 87 yards for the score. After a completed extra point from Huddle, East saw itself in unfamiliar territory, leading 17-0.
A botched punt by the Comets just before the half ended allowed Stidham one final score, this time for 1-yard dive into the end zone.
Trailing 24-0, the coin flipped in the second half as the Comets came to life, ignited by an early 66-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tristen Mitchell
Failure to capitalize on the two-point conversion allowed Huddle to respond for the Raiders, connecting on another field goal the next possession to put the Raiders up 27-6.
West Carter (0-6) put together two nice drives the remainder of the game, one at the 4:19 mark of the third when Braden Brown used his legs on a 21-yard scoring gallop, before converting on the two-point conversion to cut the East lead to 27-14.
Momentum had shifted, and this was proven true when Brown dove in for West’s final score of the game with only 1:32 left in regulation. Dallon Dean converted the two-point conversion, turning a blowout into a barnburner.
“I thought we fought hard and gave ourselves a chance there, and I was proud to see us fight back the way we did in the second half,” said West Carter Head Coach Kevin Brown.
A blocked punt with eight seconds left nearly turned fatal for the Raiders when the Comets recovered on its own 27-yard line. A surprise option call resulted in a tackle by Cole Boggs to end the madness, resulting in the Raiders’ and Moore’s first win of the year.
With the win, East Carter goes to 1-6, while West Carter falls to 0-6.