Coming off a tough district loss at McMinn County last week, the Raiders played well on both sides of the ball and gave head coach E.K. Slaughter his first victory over his former team in a 44-20 decision.
Slaughter had emphasized earlier in the week the importance of stopping a powerful Soddy run game and went as far as calling running back Cedric Edwards “the best back we will see all year.”
The Raider defense was not intimidated by Edwards, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season, holding him to just 32 yards on 10 carries, plus the entire Soddy running attack to a mere 68 yards on 23 attempts.
“We knew going in that things started and stopped with Edwards. We wanted to make them try and beat us with some of their younger players,” Slaughter explained.
It didn’t take long for the Raiders to establish the tempo of the game. During the initial kickoff senior running back C.J. Bryant put Cleveland on a short field, taking the ball to the 50-yard line.
The Cleveland offense then ran seven plays to cover those 50 yards, and Bryant finished what he started, punching the ball through from five yards out to put the Raiders up early.
During Soddy’s initial possession the Raider defense forced a fumble, but the resulting drive culminated in a turnover on downs.
Both teams exchanged possessions for the remainder of the first quarter with neither side gaining a significant foothold.
When the Raiders got the ball in the second quarter, it took just three plays to cover 56 yards for another Cleveland score. Quarterback Chad Voytik aired a 44-yard bomb to receiver D.J. Jones for a quick six points.
However, the resulting PAT attempt failed; several miscues on special teams plagued the Raiders throughout the night.
“We are a little banged up on special teams, so we were having to move some kids around. It’s something we are going to address in the coming week,” Slaughter stated.
One hole in particular that was felt on special teams was Cleveland kicker Anthony Vallejo, who was on the sidelines. Slaughter was unable to comment on Vallejo’s situation, but stated the kicker would most likely be out for the remainder of the season.
The Raiders and the Trojans exchanged possessions again before an offensive explosion occurred before the half.
It started when Cleveland utilized a three-man running attack featuring Voytik, Bryant and David Morgan to steamroll their way to another score, with Morgan breaking the goal line.
A short 38 seconds later on the game clock found Soddy scoring its first touchdown of the evening, when Spencer Stewart broke open a 21-yard run.
Cleveland took 41 seconds for Voytik to find Jones twice. One pass went for 26 yards and the other for 15 yards and six points.
But, the back-and-forth continued as Edwards had Soddy’s biggest play of the game, returning the kickoff 65 yards for yet another score.
In total, both teams scored a combined 27 points in a span taking just one minute and 32 seconds off the game clock.
Going into the half Cleveland led, 26-14.
The second half was not kind to the Trojan offense. In their first four drives Soddy had four fumbles, three of which Cleveland recovered, and an interception.
Cleveland’s offense capitalized on three of the turnovers. The scores came primarily via the running game, with Bryant, Morgan and Jonathan Terero sharing responsibilities.
Morgan became the Raider’s primary back for the night after Bryant left the game with an injured ankle. Morgan responded by punching a 4-yard run into the end zone for the score.
“C.J. just tweaked his ankle,” Slaughter said. He is still expecting Bryant to play in the upcoming game against Bradley Central.
Terero also found paydirt when he first got into the open field for a 20-yard charge and then found his way over the goal line from 28 yards out.
The last drive that resulted from a Soddy turnover found the Raiders going 84 yards in 16 plays, culminating in a 19-yard strike from Voytik to Jones that put Cleveland up 44-14 with 7:28 left to play in the fourth quarter.
Soddy responded, utilizing its passing game to push the Raiders downfield. Ultimately, the Trojans put six more points on the board when quarterback Brent Standifer found Alex Roberts in the end zone.
But, it was too little to late for Soddy as the Raiders came away with a 44-20 district victory.
Though Cleveland played well on both sides of the ball, the team was yet again plagued by penalties. In total, the Raiders drew 13 flags for 65 yards.
“Mostly those flags came from us being overaggressive. We are going to try and address that as much as we can this week,” Slaughter said.
The Raiders will need to be sharp. Next on the schedule is archrival and 10th-ranked Bradley Central in a crosstown classic.
Soddy-Daisy 0 14 0 6 — 20
Cleveland 7 19 12 6 — 44
C — C.J. Bryant 5 run (Jose Alcantrara kick), 8:57
C — D.J. Jones 43 pass from Chad Voytik (kick failed), 10:02
C — David Morgan 7 run (conversion failed), 2:35
SD — Spencer Steward 20 run (Luke Underwood kick), 1:57
C — Jones 16 pass from Voytik (Alcantrara kick), 1:15
SD — Cedric Edwards 65 kickoff return (Underwood kick), 1:03
C — Morgan 4 run (kick failed), 7:27
C — Jonathan Terrero 28 run (kick failed), 5:10
C — Jones 19 pass from Voytick (kick failed), 7:28
SD — Alex Roberts 8 pass from Brett Standifer (kick failed), 4:24
First downs 8 18
Rushes-Yards 23-68 52-307
Passing 81 120
Total Yards 149 427
Comp-Att-Int 7-20-1 6-14-1
Fumbles-Lost 5-4 1-1
Penalties-Yards 13-65 3-25
Rushing: Cedric Edwards 10-32 (SD); C.J. Bryant 21-139 TD, David Morgan 16-70 2 TDs, Jonathan Terrero 4-49 TD, Chad Voytik 5-36 (C)
Passing: Brett Standifer 7-20-1, 81 TD (SD); Chad Voytik 6-13-0 2 TDs, Austin Henrik 0-1-1 0 (C).
Receiving: Abens 4-45 (SD); D.J. Jones 4-104 2 TDs, Hunter Smith 1-15, Camden Bell 1-1 (C).
Records: Soddy-Daisy 3-5, 2-3 5-AAA; Cleveland 4-4, 2-2 District 5-AAA.