Raiders knock off Southern

Published 12:11 am Saturday, November 8, 2008

There’s something about the playoffs that turns the Shelby Academy Raiders into winners.

With their big defensive leader Bobby Sexton out of the game Friday, the Raiders overcame the odds and downed Southern Academy, 19-13, on the road to advance to the Final Four for the fourth-straight year.

“Playing without Bobby is tough. It’s the first time in three years they had to play without him, but they definitely went out and played for him. They put it on the line,” Raiders head coach Shannon Jones said. “When it get playoff time around here, they come to play Shelby football.”

Jeremy Brown filled in fro Sexton on the line, helping the Raiders shut down the Southern run game, allowing 67 yards in the game.

“They’re usually a power team, but we were successful shutting it down early,” Jones said. “We just got them out of their element. Coach (Joey) Neal did an excellent job stopping their run.”

With the run game gone, Southern quarterback Sam Kelley was forced to throw the ball. He connected on 12-of-28 passes for 128 yards, three interceptions and two touchdowns. The first score came in the first quarter on a 35-yard strike to Cody Freeman to put the Cougars up, 7-0.

Shelby answered with a sustained drive that ended in a 6-yard touchdown run by Brandon Horton, who had 114 yards in the game. The point-after attempt was missed, as the Raiders trailed, 7-6, at the half.

Jason McDaniel later capped an 80-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown to give the Raiders the lead. The lead grew in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard run by Chad King, who finished the night with 128 of Shelby’s 287 yards rushing.

Southern was driving late in the game when Austin Shelton picked off a pass to kill a drive. The Cougars held Shelby and went on to score with five minutes left on a 22-yard pass from Kelley to Tyler Landlot. But Shelby was able to run the clock out to hold on to its six-point lead.

McDaniel led the defense with 14 tackles.

Sheby (6-5) will travel to Edgewood next week as the Raiders looks to return to their third state title game in four years. Shelby lost to Edgewood, 28-7, early in the season.

I think we’re playing a lot better. I think we took them light the first time we played them. I think we’ll come prepared this time,” Jones said.