By Micheal Bryant
For The Times
GOOD HOPE —
Charles Dickens himself could not have written a better story for Good Hope’s final game of the regular season on a Friday night when the senior class was celebrated.
It was a tale of two halves as, despite trailing at halftime, the the Raiders came roaring back to beat West End 28-18 Friday.
“You saw it,” Good Hope coach Chris Moss said with a chuckle about his team’s come-from-behind win. “The kids played hard. Coach (Randy) Hallmark does a great job, and they have a pretty good football team.”
In the first half, it was the worst of times.
Class 3A Good Hope looked as if it was going to walk all over its 2A opponent. Getting the ball first, the Raiders took the opening drive 90 yards down the field in a mere five plays. Sebastion Fendley capped off the pass with a 42-yard pass to Austin Crumbley to go up early.
West End responded quickly after returning the ensuing kickoff to the Raiders’ 8-yard line. Three plays later, Christopher Lister walked it in from three yards to tie the game.
That was when the Patriots’ plan of playing keepaway went into effect. West End held the ball for 18 minutes in the first half and 33 minutes overall by constantly getting small gains to eat up the clock and converting 4 of 5 fourth downs to keep the ball in their possession.
When Good Hope gained possession, a frustrated Fendley tried to force something to happen, only to be intercepted twice.
“They kept our offense off the field,” Moss said. “If I was playing us, that is what I would do. They had a great gameplan.”
Even though the Red and White defense was on the field most of the night, they were able to hold up and only allowed one more touchdown before the half. The attack was led by Alex Cofer, who finished the night with 11 tackles, including a sack and three others for loss.
“Alex is our leader on defense,” Moss said. “He’s a senior and a great kid. We’re going to miss him a lot. Our guys always rally around him.”
It was the best of times in the second half.
West End got the ball to start the third quarter, and it looked like another march down the field. But on the fourth play from scrimmage, the Raiders took the ball out of senior running back Howard Blanton’s hands — whom gave Good Hope fits all night — and went to the air, setting up an interception by senior Justin Turner.
The Raiders took the ball 54 yards in five plays, scoring on a Fendley run from nine yards out. They cashed in on the two-point conversion to take a two-point lead.
The senior signal-caller had a stat-line of 4 for 11 passing for 112 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added 28 rushing yards on four carries.
West End regained the lead on a 17-play drive that covered 64 yards. The score came on a 1-yard Blanton run.
The Patriots didn’t have momentum long, though, as Jared McClure returned the next kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown.
“McClure had a heck of return,” Moss said. “They kicked it short to him, and he took off. It was great. That was a big spark.”
After West End ended a 12-play drive with a turnover on down, McClure caught a 42-yard pass from Fendley to give the game its final score. The junior also had finished with 96 rushing yards on just six carries.
West End finished its season 0-10, while Good Hope improved to 7-3. The Raiders will travel to No. 3 Saks next week for the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re going to have to work very hard,” Moss said. “We’re going to have to really step it up next week because we’re going to have our hands full.