Raiders win 1-point thriller

Published 11:10 pm Friday, November 11, 2016

Pine has had a knack for playing exciting games this season.
During the regular season, five of the Raiders’ contests were decided by eight points or less and Pine was 3-2 in those games.
Friday’s opening round Class 2A home playoff game against Jonesboro-Hodge was no different.
The Raiders scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:25 left in the fourth quarter and the defense stopped the Tigers on the next possession in a 15-14 postseason victory.
“Every game we’ve played is like that,” Pine coach Bradley Seal said. “We’ve been in that position so many times. That’s our team right there. We’re a football team — played our hearts out.”
The Raiders showed toughness in the fourth quarter. They trailed 8-7, but the Tigers added to the lead when Tay’Vionne Tate faked a handoff and connected with LaTrayVious Harris on a 45-yard touchdown pass just one play after Pine punted. The two-point conversion was no good, keeping it a 14-7 contest.
But the Raiders responded quickly. Chris Gordon returned the ensuing kickoff to Jonesboro-Hodge’s 45.
Delvric Dillon took the first down handoff 39 yards to Jonesboro-Hodge’s 5. Jakyran Handy got the first-and-goal call and he answered with a touchdown run to pull the Raiders within one. Seal bypassed the extra point kick and decided to go for two in an attempt to get the lead.
“I just said put it in our best player’s hands,” he said. “We’ve rode Jakyran Handy all year long (1,001 yards rushing with 19 total touchdowns coming in). We’ve run behind Donovan (Kreyssig) and Brendon (Kelley) all year long — let’s do it one more time to win the game.”
They did and it worked.
An offsides penalty on Jonesboro-Hodge moved the ball to the one and a half yard line and then Handy took the handoff and ran in for the two points. Pine led 15-14 with 7:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the game was far from over. Jonesboro-Hodge returned the kickoff to its 28 and drove to the 38 before punting. The kick was downed at Pine’s 4.
Pine moved the ball to the 12 and had to punt.
The Tigers took possession at Pine’s 40 with 2:02 left in the game.
Pine called on its defense one more time, and again the unit delivered.
Jonesboro-Hodge picked up a first down on third-and-11 from the 41 on a 12-yard scramble by Tate. The Tigers then had a 3-yard run, an incompletion and a 4-yard loss. It was fourth-and-7 at the 26 with less than 20 seconds to go.
Jonesboro-Hodge attempted a pass, but Tate Roach got the sack, as other defenders joined in the stop with eight seconds left.
Seal praised his defense for their overall play.
“Oh man, they played as well as I’ve ever seen anybody — that defense right there was unreal, awesome,” Seal said.
Friday’s victory was Pine’s second playoff victory in the Raiders’ football history. It was also their second postseason home game. They won their first playoff game, which was at home, two years ago, 28-20 over St. Helena College & Career Academy.
No. 12 Pine (7-3) advances to the second round of the playoffs and travels to face defending Class 2A state champion fifth-seeded Kinder, which defeated 28th-seeded Jeanerette, 55-8.
Pine got on the board first when Joey Seal passed to Chris Gordon for a 28-yard touchdown. Christian Edwards hit the extra point to make it 7-0 at the 7:01 mark of the second period.
Jonesboro-Hodge took an 8-7 lead on a 28-yard interception return by Kris Thomas, who also ran for the two-point conversion with 1:29 left in the third.
The Tate-to-Harris connection made it 14-7 with eight minutes to go in the fourth, before Handy scored the touchdown and the go-ahead two-point conversion with 7:25 left on the clock.