EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WYTV) – The South Range Raiders scored 48 unanswered points to start the second half in their game against East Palestine, rolling in convincing fashion to a 55-14 victory Friday night. The win boost the Raiders regular season record to 9-1, 3-1 in the ITCL. East Palestine closes the season with a 6-4 mark, 2-2 in the league.
The Raiders only ran 17 plays and totaled 44 yards in the first half while trailing the Bulldogs 7-0 at the halftime intermission. The Bulldogs on the other hand dominated play as they scored on a 3-yard run by quarterback Parker Sherry at the 7:38 mark of the second quarter.
“The players, we sort of got together and we said we have to regroup,” Raiders senior Taymer Graham remarked. “We didn’t come out and play our game. It was the last (regular season) game for the seniors and the seniors got everyone together and told them we have to fix it up. There were some other words too,” Graham said with a chuckle.
“That first half, nothing was going right,” he added. “I missed a couple blocks, we all missed a couple blocks. The second half our mental attitude, we got a little more mad.”
“Basically it was East Palestine,” Raiders coach Dan Yeagley said. “They came out with a good defensive philosophy, they came out with a good plan. Hats off to them, they are very well coached and coach Foster does a great job and they came ready to play. They are a very good team.”
The Bulldogs had an opportunity to score twice in the first half as they had a first and goal opportunity from the Raiders 4-yard line before finding themselves turning the ball over on downs at the 38 after two sacks and an incomplete pass. That came at the end of a 14-play drive.
“That was huge,” Yeagley admitted. “If they would have got that in it would have made it 14-0. So that was huge, it was a great defensive stand.”
However it was the start of the third quarter that an avalanche started to smother the Bulldogs as the Raiders scored on all seven of their second half possessions. They even added a punt return for another score to add insult to injury.
The Raiders took the opening second half kickoff and drove 65-yards on 7 plays with quarterback Aniello Buzzacco running around end for a 19-yard touchdown. That score at the 9:06 mark of the quarter tied the game at 7-7.
Following the Bulldogs going three and out, a partially blocked punt by the Raiders Austin Kelly gave them the ball at the Bulldogs 25-yard line. From there they only used two plays to score on a Nathan Daniszewski 11-yard run and a 14-7 lead.
“Our line play, it was great. We changed a couple things and we all played our roles correctly. We’re not huge obviously, but we are down and dirty up there, so we just changed things and came out and attacked them,” Graham explained.
The Bulldogs would fumble on their next possession with Graham recovering at the Bulldogs 8, setting the Raiders up for yet another score. Daniszewski would score again, this time on a 4-yard run and the rout was on as they lead 21-7 just seven and a half minutes into the quarter.
“We had great field position. I think in the first half we only had the ball three times,” Yeagley explained. “We had some short fields, had some nice special teams, and our defense came out big.”
The Raiders Mathias Combs would then get into the action as he returned a punt 34 yards to the Dogs 11 where Peyton Remish would haul in a Buzzacco pass and a 28-7 lead with 2:30 remaining in the quarter.
Combs would top himself on the next punt try as he appeared hemmed in by the Bulldogs punt team only to bust free for a 45-yard return for a touchdown. That score gave the Raiders a 34-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The Raiders would add three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter despite a running clock. Buzzacco, Ethan Dominquez, and Trent Harold provided the scores, while Dominic Posey added a kickoff return for a touchdown to provide the Bulldogs with their final score.
With the win, the Raiders have locked up a home playoff game next Saturday against a team to be determined. For the Raiders it will be their last home game at Memorial Stadium in North Lima.
“We’ll start looking at that stuff tonight and tomorrow. It doesn’t matter, we’re excited about playing in week 11, and excited about being at home. It was fun having the last regular season game there and it’s nice being able to go back one more time. It’s a great place and we’re looking forward to one more game there.”
“For us, we have never been in the playoffs before, us seniors. So we’re excited for it and we are just going to come out and play our game,” Graham added.
Read more: View all week ten game recaps/highlights