With star quarterback Chris Parson out due to injury, Ravenwood has called on its other offensive standouts to step up and carry the load. And probably no one has delivered more than junior running back Carter Pace.
Behind a dominant offensive line, Pace rushed for four touchdowns and a whopping 243 yards on 26 carries to lead the Raptors to a 38-14 win at Independence on Friday night. The performance helped him cross 1,000 rushing yards for the season.
“Carter’s been huge for us,” Ravenwood coach Will Hester said. “Every time he scores, he is setting a new school record. You can’t say enough good things about him--he’s our bell cow.”
And thanks to Brentwood’s victory over Centennial, Ravenwood clinched the Region 7-6A title and the opportunity to host Germantown in the first round of the state playoffs.
“Being home in the first round and playing in front of our home crowd is big.” Hester added. “I’m proud of the way our boys have persevered, both tonight and over the course of the season. They’ve earned it.”
Meanwhile, the loss for Independence forces the Eagles to settle for a third-place finish in the region. That means they will have to make the three-hour drive to Memphis to take on Houston in the opening round.
“Tonight we just didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing, and we know we’ve got to get better,” Independence coach Scott Stidham said. “We would rather be playing at home in the playoffs, but somebody’s got to go on the road and we happen to be one of them. We’ve got to forget this game because everyone’s got a clean slate right now.”
Independence got off to a hot start, scoring on the opening drive with quarterback Brooks Sapone connecting with wide receiver Luke McNeilly on a 29-yard touchdown pass.
Then the Eagles defense recovered a sack fumble on the second play of Ravenwood’s first drive and took over deep inside Raptors territory with the chance to extend their early lead.
Instead, the Raptors defense held firm and forced the Eagles to settle for a 31-yard field goal attempt that kicker Landric Mayeski sailed wide right.
It was all downhill for Independence after that.
Moments later, Pace shed a pair of tacklers and dashed 70 yards to tie the game with five minutes left in the first quarter--kicking off a run of 38 unanswered points for the Raptors.
“Setting the tone is everything. This game is about momentum and once we grabbed it, we ran off with it,” Pace said.
Early in the second quarter, it was senior wide receiver Colton Pace–Carter’s brother–who gave the Raptors the lead when he took a shovel pass from quarterback Maverick Chance and beat the Eagles defense on the edge for a 34-yard score.
Then the Raptors leaned on Carter Pace and the run game the rest of the way, with Carter adding touchdown runs of 11, 15, and 2 yards in the winning effort.
On the other side of the ball, Ravenwood’s defense forced four turnovers and held Independence to 179 yards of total offense. After giving up a combined 68 points in back-to-back losses to Centennial and Pope John Paul II the past two weeks, it was a welcome sight for coach Hester.
“We’ve been maligned the last couple weeks for our defensive play, but I’m happy with the way they stepped up tonight,” Hester said. “Playing great defense is how you win in the playoffs, so we’re going to need that kind of effort moving forward.”
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