The hopes of the Independence Eagles (5-5, 3-2) to capture the Region 6-6A title were washed away by a tide of errors and a red wave of Ravenwood Raptors (8-2, 4-1) that took advantage of nearly every miscue, spotting the confident and prepared visitors a six-score lead that turned into a 37-21 thumping of the Eagles on a dark and wet Friday night in Thompson's Station.
A steady drizzle that soaked fans, players and equipment turned into the Eagles’ kryptonite early and often.
On the second play of the game, Indy quarterback Ethan Cash’s attempt to smother an errant snap was snatched away by Luke Shouse. Five plays later William Baine pushed over from the 1-yard line to draw first blood.
Indy’s second drive started at their own four after the kick-off bounced off Chayce Bishop’s hands and out of bounds. The drive got as far as the 38-yard line after a roughing the kicker penalty in the end zone saved the effort before a bad snap and penalty forced a punt from the 17.
Raptor quarterback Brian Garcia waltzed into the end zone from the 5-yard line less than two minutes later. Even with the blocked PAT, Ravenwood was up 13-0 in the first seven minutes.
“No excuses,” said Indy head coach Scott Blade after the contest. “When we can do the basic fundamentals, we’re actually a decent team. When we stop doing the little things, there’s no excuses, we’re a bad team. And tonight, we were a bad team.”
When the Eagles weren’t stopping themselves, the Raptors were. Ravenwood held the hosts to 260 total yards, with 200-plus coming in the final seven minutes against the fresh, clean uniforms of the Raptors' second string.
The effort had Ravenwood coach Matt Daniels praising both his team and his staff.
“Coach (Ryan) Fowler, our defensive coordinator, is just incredible," he said. "He does everything he can to figure out the most creative way to put our kids in the right position to succeed. We did some exotic things to put pressure on them and to give them something they haven’t seen all year.”
That defense and the wet weather haunted the Eagles’ quarterbacks. Cash struggled with at least seven slippery or errant snaps in the first half, hitting only 3-of-11 passes for 55 yards. Nathan Cisco rotated in and out in relief, going 6-of-9 for 147 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown throw to Isaiah Collier late in the fourth. Collier had three catches for 108 yards and added a two-yard scoring run with less than two minutes to play.
Collier’s score kept the Eagles from being shut out for the first time since Oct. 16, 2009 when Franklin took home a 21-0 win as Indy tacked on a couple late TDs as well.
Baine led all rushers with 86 yards and the TD. Tyrus Jackson added a rushing score for the Eagles.
Garcia’s 69-yard scoring strike to Andrew Mason on the first play of the second quarter not only gave Ravenwood a 20-0 lead, but it also officially broke the school record for passing touchdowns in a season at 23. When asked about the record, the junior admitted he didn’t know he had accomplished the feat.
“I don’t keep up with that," he said. "I just want to win.”
With the victory, Ravenwood finished second in the region and will host Overton (4-6, 4-2 Region 5-6A) next Friday night in the first round of the playoffs. It is an event Daniels is anxious to see.
“We’re excited about a home playoff game," he said. "I think we need to make a statement home and look forward to having our student section out in full force.”
A win would have given the Eagles the regional title and home field advantage. Instead they will have to travel to face Smyrna (7-3, 5-1 Region 5-6A) in the first round.
Ravenwood 37, Independence 21 at Independence High School in Thompson's Station
RHS – 13 10 7 7 – 37
IHS – 0 0 0 21 – 21
RHS – William Baine 1-yard run (Luke Akers kick)
RHS – Brian Garcia 5-yard run (PAT blocked)
RHS – Garcia 69-yard pass to Andrew Mason (Akers kick)
RHS – Akers 32-yard field goal
RHS – Garcia 5-yard run (Akers Kick)
RHS – Tony Rice 5-yard run (Akers Kick)
IHS – Tyrus Jackson 8-yard run (Weston Landry kick)
IHS – Nathan Sisco 67-yard pass to Isaiah Collier (Landry kick)
IHS – Collier 2-yard run (Landry kick).
RHS 37-183 (William Baine 14-86; Tony Rice 8-67; Jordan Smith 2-18; Brian Garcia 8-10; Kylin Watt 2-3; Trevor Andrews 2-0; Connor Pace 1 (-1)); IHS – 29-58 (Tyrus Jackson 8-86; Ethan Cash 9-10; Nathan Cisco 1-8; Chayce Bishop 1-3; Isaiah Collier 1-2; TJ Sheffield 3 (-2); Team 6 (-49)).
RHS – Brian Garcia 8-14-0-1 for 160 yards; IHS – Nathan Cisco 6-9-0-1 for 108; Ethan Cash 3-11-0-0 for 55.
RHS – Andrew Mason 2-82, 1 TD; Jake Briningstool 4-64; Anthony Holmes 1; Tony Rice 1-7. IHS – Isaiah Collier 3-108, 1 TD; TJ Sheffield 2-48; Chayce Bishop 3-30; Tyrus Jackson 1-16.