RAVENSWOOD – The Red Devils lost a heartbreaker in their season opener Friday night at Flinn Field, when what looked to be a game-winning drive in the final three minutes turned into a 90-yard interception return touchdown for Wahama to nail down a 26-14 win.
Trailing 20-14, Max Hinton hit Alex Casto with a 55-yard pass and run carrying inside the Wahama 20 yard line with 2:05 left in the game. But an errant pass on the ensuing play sailed straight into the hands of White Falcon defensive back Colton Arrington. Arrington raced 90 yards down the home sideline to score, and put the game out of reach in a shocking turn of events.
Still, the Red Devils should never have been in that position to start with. They led 7-0 at the half and could have, should have been up at least 10-0 or 14-0.
Wahama looked ready to put up the first points of the game, but Max Hinton unloaded on White Falcon running back Wyatt Edwards causing a fumble and Devin Haid recovered at the Devil three yard line.
Ravenswood then marched 97 yards in 12 plays to grab the lead on an Alex Casto two-yard plunge. Ryan Cunningham booted the PAT and Ravenswood led 7-0 with 1:32 left in the opening quarter.
Leading 7-0 in the second quarter, Ravenswood was one block shy of a punt return TD by senior Hayden Mandrake. Mandrake fielded a line drive boot and swung to the home slde where a wall of Red Devil blockers had formed. Mandrake returned the punt 27 yards, but was forced out of bounds by the lone Falcon between him and end zone—Wyatt Edwards--who should have been blocked but wasn’t.
Then a fumbled snap on a 26-yard field goal attempt when the drive stalled cost the Devils a second chance to up their lead before the half.
The third quarter was a nightmare, as no less than five Red Devils (including Casto who spent almost all of the quarter on the sldeline) were forced from action due to leg cramps in the stifling heat. Ironically, Wahama had no such cramping issues.
The White Falcons took the opening kickoff the second half and marched 76 yards in just five plays to score. Colton Arrington hauled in a seven-yard pass option pass from Colton Hendrick for the capping TD. The PAT kick failed and Ravenswood still led 7-6 with 9:20 left in the third quarter.
The nightmare continued on the ensuing play when Jason Adkins fumbled a pooch kickoff and Wahama recovered on the Ravenswood 37. Seven plays later, Brady Bumgarner scored from five years out for Wahama. Arringtion ran for the two-point conversion, and the White Falcons led 14-7 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
Just over one minute later, sophomore quarterback Max Hilton took the football to the hosue on a 57-yard gallop, after a 15-yard targeting penalty. Cunningham booted the PAT and the game was tied at 14-14 with 5:56 still left in the third quarter.
Wahama continued their dominance of time of possession with another time-consuming drive that ate up the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth. Ravenswood ran just two offensive plays in the third quarter—one Hilton’s TD gallop.
The White Falcons marched 57-yards in 13 plays to retake the lead on a eight-yard run by Wyatt Edwards. Ethan Mahan blocked the PAT kick and Wahama led 20-14 with 9:23 left in the game.
That set the stage for the final frantic drive by the Red Devils , and the stunning turn-of-events with the 90-yard interception return to put the game away. Still, the Red Devils battled and drove deep into White Falcon territory before a wild foot-deflected pass attempt to Hayden Mandrake in a crowd was intercepted to seal the deal.
“I think we’re improved from last year, but we have to be tougher--meaner than that,” said Coach Kemp Kelly. “And we can’t play defense for an entire quarter like we did tonight and win. But we were extremely proud of them. They never quit. We missed some opportunities early we should have capitalized on, And we, as coaches, should have done a better job of clock management late. We will work to correct those things. The boys were down but positive in Saturday meetings. They have a great attitude and work ethic. We believe in them. We will all get better.”
On the night, Alex Casto led Ravenswood with 77 rushing yards (70 in the irst half) on nine carries with a TD. Max Hilton added four carries for 51 net yards and a TD; Jake Greene, eight carries for 31 yards; Luke Jackson, one carry for seven yards; Ryan Bailey, one carry for six yards; Jason Adkins, four carries for five yards; and Hayden Mandrake, one carry for no gain. For the game, the Red Devils were limited to 28 carries for 177 yards, as offensive line play was again spotty—a major issue from 2015 revisited.
Hilton completed two of nine passes for 63 yards with three interceptions. Alex Casto tried one pass which fell imcomplete. Casto had one catch for 55 yards and Greene, one for eight yards.
Ravenswood totaled 240 yards off offense with 11 first downs (9 via rush, one via pass and 1 via penalty) and drew eight flags for 44 yards.
Wyatt Edwards led Wahama with 29 carries for 138 yards and a TD. The White Falcons totaled 55 carries for 307 rushing yards, exploiting the Red Devils defensive line.
Bruton Grade completed one of three passes for 15 yards and Colton Hendrick was one-for-one for seven yards and a TD.
Wahama totaled 329 offensive yards with 13 first downs (11 via rush, 1 via pass and 1 via penalty) and drew eight flags for 62 yards.
Ryan Cunningham punted once for 44 yards, and kicked off three times for 152 yards (50.67 avg.)
Hayden Mandrake returned one punt for 27 yards; and Casto, one for eight yards. Casto returned two kickoffs for 45 yards; Ryan Bailey, one for eight yards; and Elijah Benson, recovered an onside kick with no return.
Luke Jackson led the Red Devils defense with 14 tackles. Ethan Maham, Elijah Benson and Jake Greene added seven stops each; Hayden Mandrake and Logan Coleman, five each; Alex Casto, four; Luke Radabaugh and Kenley Hickman, three each; Erikson Corbin, Rayn Bailey and Ryan Blackburn, two each; Zach Flowers and Ryan Cunningham, one each; and Devin Haid recovered a fumble.
Ravenswood (0-1) makes a long trek to Webster County Friday night to take onb the Highlanders (1-0), who defeated Richwood 12-6 Friday night. Webster rallied from a 13-0 half-time deficit to hand the cramp-plagued Red Devils a bitter 14-13 loss at Flinn Field last fall.
(R) Alex Casto, two-yard run (Ryan Cunningham kick); 1:32 first quarter
(W) Colton Arrington, seven-yard pass from Colton Hendrick (kick failed); 9:20 third quarter
(W) Brady Bumgarner, five-yard run (Colton Arrington run); 6:32 third quarter
(R) Max Hilton, 57-yard run (Cunningham kick); 5:56 third quarter
(W) Wyatt Edwards, eight-yard run (kick blocked); 9:23 fourth quarter
(W) Colton Arrington, 90-yard interception return (kick blocked); 2:05 fourth quarter