Raiders pull off 9-7 nail-biter against Generals


Despite hitting pay dirt on the first drive of the game, there was very little offense in a 9-7 victory for the Oak Hill Academy Raiders on Friday night in Decatur against the Newton County Academy Generals.

The Raiders lone offensive touchdown would come on a 14-yard run on the opening drive by junior running back Jonah Caskey. And while the Raiders did emerge victorious, injuries and a thin bench kept the Raiders fighting tooth and nail all evening, but head coach Chris Craven said all that mattered was the win.

The Oak Hill defense also went a third-straight week, counting the jamboree exhibition against Pickens Academy, without allowing a score.

The lone score for the Generals would come on a fumble recovery and return for a touchdown.

Craven said the biggest play of the game came early in the fourth quarter when Jake Makamson blocked a punt for a safety to bring the game to its final tally of 9-7 for the Raiders.

“It was kind of one of those moments,” Craven said about the blocked punt.

Craven then said the Generals lived up to the scouting report, especially on the offensive line.

“I told you before they were big, they would roll their substitute lineman in there and they were as big as the ones they had to start with - 6’4, 6’5, 270, we got after them and played them hard,” Craven said.

With several injuries, including his son and mike linebacker Jaden Craven, who went down with a wrist injury but is expected to return to practice on Monday, keeping players rested in a hard fought football game became an issue.

“We had some guys who had to come out and it’s next man up,” Craven said. “You turn around and look and we got pretty thin.”

Craven did, however, have high praise for the team’s kicker and punter Grayson Easterling, who recorded a touchback during the game and made his lone extra point attempt.

“That’s always great to make them start on their 20, but his punting, I don’t know how many yards he had, but he was flipping the field for us,” Craven said of the senior. “Him putting them on the other end,
making them go 80 and 70 yards when the defense is playing well.”

While he praised the running game led by Caskey and Ethan Bryan, and the leadership of first year starting quarterback Ash Cullum, a senior, Craven said he hopes to see some improvement with timing and execution in the passing game as the weeks roll along.

“It makes it harder with inexperience, sophomore wideouts, first-year quarterback and it’s only game two and there still some adjustments and things we have to work on, like timing, and reading,” Craven said. “Ash
is a good quarterback and he’s smart, but nothing like doing it in a game.”

The Oak Hill Academy Raiders (2-0) will host the visiting Tunica Academy Blue Devils (2-0) next week at home.