GOOD HOPE —
The stats may look a lot closer than the score, but Good Hope’s homecoming loss to New Hope Friday night was never really close.
The reason? The Raiders faced the same trouble other teams have had against the Indians — they couldn’t find an answer for Jonathan Ford, New Hope’s do-it-all phenom, who sliced through Good Hope’s defense for long first-half scoring runs that put the game out of reach early.
Make that really early.
Ford scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage, a 48-yard scamper down the sideline and into the end zone, putting the Indians on top 7-0 with only 14 seconds gone from the game clock.
Ford looked to repeat that performance on the Indians’ very next offensive play, tearing 60 yards on a would-be touchdown run that was saved by an offensive holding penalty. New Hope’s drive stalled after that, but the Raider offense went nowhere on the next possession, which ended when a fourth-down punt snap sailed past the back of the end zone for an Indians’ safety.
A New Hope (3-2, 1-2 in Class 3A, Region 6) passing touchdown, coupled with another Ford short-distance running score as the first-quarter clock expired, gave the Indians a 22-0 advantage.
Good Hope (2-3, 1-2 in Class 3A, Region 7) got into an offensive rhythm late in the half, mounting a long scoring drive on the legs of Jerrod McClure. That drive ended with the Raiders scoring on a short fourth-down strike from quarterback Austin Crumbley to tight end Zac Sloan, making it a 22-7 game with just under six minutes left in the half.
Ford revved it up again on the ensuing New Hope possession, carving through the Raiders’ defensive line and past the secondary for a 65-yard touchdown to extend the Indians’ lead.
McClure and the Good Hope offense came back after the punt, with the back giving the Raiders consecutive first downs on hard off-tackle runs of 13 and 10 yards. A long pass play from Crumbley to Sloan put Good Hope on the Indians’ 26. From there, McClure delivered a tough up-the-middle run that gave the Raiders their second touchdown, making the game 29-13 with 3:30 left in the half.
Good Hope and New Hope battled for field position on the Indians’ way after the Raiders’ special teams turned the ball over on a fumbled punt return. New Hope scored on a short pass, widening their lead to 35-13 with 1:51 before halftime.
The Indians took possession once more after Good Hope couldn’t move the ball on its final drive of the half. Ford blazed into the end zone on another long punt return that was cancelled out by a blocking-in-the-back penalty, but New Hope used the short clock to practice its passing game — mostly without success — before opting to let Ford run in for a final 17-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half.
With the Indians in control 42-13 at halftime, the second half was all about ball control. Each team scored once more in the second half — Good Hope on a short-field possession capped by a five-yard TD run from Zac Witcher — but the game was out of reach by then.
Raider coach Chris Moss said his team had prepared for Ford all week, but Good Hope’s execution could have been better on the defensive side of the ball.
“We knew coming in that their No. 5 was an athlete — that guy is an athlete,” Moss said. “But everybody’s pretty good when you’re not hitting them. We didn’t touch him much, and that was just sad. We told our guys all week, ‘He’s good,’ but this is what happened.”
The loss won’t affect the Raiders’ record in regional play, with the Raiders visiting region-foe Danville next Friday.
“That’s what I just told our guys — we’re gonna get back into area play next week,” said Moss after the game. “We have to play Danville at their place. We have to go back now and start using our heads a little better.”
‰ Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.