DUBLIN — It all came down to a single drive for the Knights on Monday night against Midway, and at the start it looked oh-so-promising. But the drive’s ending wasn’t worthy of its start, and West Bladen fell to the Raiders by a 24-19 score.
The loss dropped the Knights to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Four County Conference. Midway jumps ahead of West Bladen at 8-2, 4-2.
The Raiders took the opening possession and marched 47 yards to the Knights’ 13 before West Bladen pushed the visitors backwards on three straight running plays. Midway lined up for a 36-yard field and split the uprights to take a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.
The Knights responded quickly, taking over at their own 35 after the kickoff and moving the 65 yards in nine plays — featuring a 13-yard run by Malcolm Vaught, an 11-yard run by Malique McDowell and two penalties against the Raiders to keep the drive alive. Vaught finished off the march with a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:45 left in the quarter and Colby McLean added the PAT to put West Bladen up, 7-3.
The two teams traded possessions without any threats before the first quarter ended.
Midway began the second quarter with the ball on its own 32 and went 68 yards in 10 plays, finding the end zone with 6:47 left in the half. The extra point gave the Raiders a 10-7 edge.
West Bladen couldn’t move past its own 35 before punting, and Midway began another drive from its own 29 — a drive that lasted just three plays and ending when Stefan McDonald picked off a pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was stopped, but West Bladen took a 13-10 lead with 2:12 left in the half.
The Raiders took over on their own 40 and started conservatively, gaining 13 yards on two runs and a short pass. But then Midway managed to get a receiver behind the Knights’ defense and scored on a 47-yard touchdown pass. The point after gave the Raiders a 17-13 edge at halftime.
“We made some adjustments to help take care of their passing game,” West Bladen coach Russell Dove said. “And on offense, the only one stopping us is us.”
The Knights took the opening possession at their own 36 and ran just three plays before Midway picked off a pass at the West Bladen 39. The Raiders needed just five plays to find pay dirt with 3:45 off the clock in the third quarter. The PAT gave Midway a 24-13 lead.
Neither team put any points on the board through the rest of the third quarter, though Midway threatened late until McDonald picked off his second Raiders pass at the West Bladen 7.
The Knights finished off the third quarter with a 6-yard run by quarterback Colby Lewis, then moved 87 yards in eight plays — highlighted by a 17-yard pass from Lewis to Kesean Sutton, a 16yard run by Lewis and an 11-yard run by McDowell — capped off by a 44-yard touchdown run by McDowell with 8:52 to play. The two-point try was stuff, but West Bladen was within 24-19.
West Bladen’s defense, in particular linebacker Parker Allen, stepped up big on Midway’s next possession. Allen dogged the Midway quarterback for a 10-yard sack, then stopped the Raiders for a 2-yard gain on the next play. A swarming Knights defense piled things up at the line of scrimmage on the next play to force a punt.
And thus began the promising drive.
West Bladen took over at its own 25 with more than 6 minutes showing, and methodically began moving toward the winning touchdown 75 yards away.
During the ensuing 13-play march, Vaught had a 12-yard run, Lewis had an 8-yard run and Lewis hooked up with Vaught on an 8-yard pass. With something more than 3 minutes on the clock, West Bladen found itself at the Midway 25 facing a second and 9. Then things went sour.
A sack lost 11 yards. A pass lost 4 yards. A penalty lost 5 yards. And on a third down and 25 from the Raiders’ 45, Lewis zinged a pass to Vaught over the middle at the Midway 23. For a split second, Vaught had the ball in his arms. In the next instant, he was hit from behind and the ball popped up in the air and was intercepted to essentially end the game.
“I don’t really know what to say about this one,” Dove said. “We hurt ourselves with turnovers and penalties.
“We played well, but just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had,” he added. “We didn’t play smart football.”
McDowell led West Bladen on the ground with 123 yards on 12 carries. Lewis had 70 yards on 13 carries, and was also 3-for-6 for 21 yards and two interceptions through the air.
West Bladen 19
Midway3-14-7-0 — 24
West Bladen 7-6-0-6 — 19
WB rushing: Malique McDowell 12-123, Colby Lewis 13-70, Malcolm Vaught 6-39, Kesean Sutton 4-26.
WB passing: Colby Lewis 3-6-2, 21 yards.
WB receiving: Malcolm Vaught 2-4, Kesean Sutton 1-17.
WB miscellaneous: Stefan McDonald (two interceptions), Parker Allen (sack).
Records: West Bladen 5-5, 3-3; Midway 8-2, 4-2.