SA falls in championship game

Published 4:15 pm Monday, November 18, 2013

Tonee Hill watches the Eagles celebrate following the 42-30 loss. -- Cain Madden/Tidewater News

Tonee Hill watches the Eagles celebrate following the 42-30 loss. — Cain Madden/Tidewater News

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C.—After falling behind in the first half, The Southampton Academy Raiders came up short in their second half comeback attempt, losing by a final score of 42-30 to the Rocky Mount Academy Eagles.

Head Coach Dale Marks said to his team in the locker room before the game that three things would determine the outcome of the game — big plays, penalties and turnovers.

Starting out, the Eagles got the ball and were across the goal line in 50 seconds, as Brice Andracchio punched it in from the goal line, after a big play had gotten them there.

Southampton Academy also lost the turnover battle, with three fumbles, 2 of them lost. Adding to the turnovers, both teams’ quarterbacks threw an interception. The first lost fumble killed a drive, while the second one happened on the kickoff following a Rocky Mount score, setting the Eagles up for another quick score. Already down, the kickoff turnover caused the Raiders to give up 14 points in less than two minutes.

The fumble that the Raiders recovered also killed a drive, as Matt Rose was sacked for a 27 yard loss on third down, forcing Southampton Academy to punt.

The penalty battle was 4-3 in the Raiders’ favor. The biggest penalty came with 11:26 to go in the game, when a call went against Tristan Holland for a low block, which brought back a 65-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Edwards from Rose.

While the Raiders did score on the drive, a 23-yard pass from Rose to Paul Parker, the clock ticked down to 8:49 to go in the game, making the score 36-30 in favor of the Eagles.

The next drive by the Eagles brought the clock down to 1:52, as Rocky Mount ran 16 plays, mostly runs going up the middle. The drive ended in another Andracchio score from the goal line. The conversion, however, failed.

Southampton got the ball back down 12 points, needing two scores with 1:52 left on the clock.

Paul Parker returned the ball to the Raider 47, and Rose connected with Parker on a quick pass for five yards. After a flag on the Eagles for too many players on the field, the Raiders were at second and 1 to go with 1:38 left. On the next play, Rose was sacked by Eric Robertson, making it fourth and 5 after Rose spiked it to stop the clock with 1:16 to go in the game.

On the next play, Rose overthrew Tonee Hill on a deep pass, and he was intercepted. Rocky Mount’s quarterback took a knee three times to expire the clock, and they defeated the Raiders 42-30.

“I think the big plays evened out,” said Marks. “But the other two things I talked about definitely went against us.

“It was just a situation where we lost two of those battles. The penalty and turnover battle, when two teams are evenly matched, it goes a long way toward determining the outcome.

“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half. And we tried to climb out during the second. We just had a hard time stopping their inside power running game in the second half.”

Marks said that they were up against a good team.

“They were certainly well prepared,” Marks said. “They are also a lot deeper than we are. They did a lot more platooning than we do. I felt like our guys gave it their all. But as a result of having a bigger roster, toward the end, their guys have more to give than our guys. I thought that was a factor as well.”

Going in as a number one seed, playing the number three seed, it was also tough to go against the fans of the other team, as many were a short drive away.

“It’s a little bit of a tough pill to swallow there,” said Marks. “But I liked the venue. It was a nice field for our kids to play on.”

After the game, Marks told his team to not let the loss destroy what they have done this year.

“A lot of teams would like to go 11-1, it just happens that our 1 game was in the last game,” he said. “That tends to tarnish a really nice season.

“I just told them to take these medals we got, and put them away somewhere safe. I told them I know they probably don’t mean a lot now, being runner up medals. But at some time in the life, they are going to pull it out, look at the medal, and it is going to remind them of the friends they had, the people they went to battle with, a great football season this year, and a good time in their lives.”

Eagles head coach B.W. Holt said his team was fortunate to win the battle for the championship.

“They are the best 8-man team in our league,” said Holt of the Raiders. “They have the best players. They are the best coached. And they are a really good group of kids. We just tried to work a little bit harder than them tonight.

“We came out with more of a tight end set. By doing that, I thought we had more of a base look, and I think we got to move things round a bit. They had to change up what they were doing. It was a good high school football game.”

Marks wanted to thank his team for giving it all they had, and everyone who supported them this season.

“I’m just really thankful to all of our parents and the school community as a whole,” he said. “They have been behind us all year, and as a football team, as a coaching staff, I’m certainly thankful for what they have done for us this year.”