Raiders have tough night against state champs

Posted 8/24/19

KNOXVILLE — It didn't help that Cleveland opened against the defending state 5-A champions, but the Blue Raiders made it even harder on themselves with turnovers and missed opportunities in a 51-20 opening night loss to Knoxville Central.

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Raiders have tough night against state champs


KNOXVILLE — It didn't help that Cleveland opened against the defending state 5-A champions, but the Blue Raiders made it even harder on themselves with turnovers and missed opportunities in a 51-20 opening night loss to Knoxville Central.


“We made way too many mistakes. We turned the ball over in the first half, but our defense played really well the first quarter and a half. For us to be successful we've got to move the chains and we can't have our defense on the field as much as they were the first half,” said first-year Blue Raiders coach Marty Wheeler.


Cleveland (0-1) mishandled the ball seven times, losing two fumbles. The Bobcats (1-0) also intercepted a pass and dominated offensively with 403 yards.


“I would say what could go wrong went wrong. It's frustrating to see, but they (mistakes) are fixable. We've got to make a commitment to fix them,” said Wheeler.


Wide receiver Robert Flowers stood out for Cleveland on a night where not much went well for the Raiders. Flowers hauled in four Gage Kinsey passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, ran a kickoff back 93 yards for the first Cleveland TD and had 184 total return yards. Defensively, the 6-3 senior safety intercepted a pass late to stop a Bobcats drive.


The Kinsey-to-Flowers hookups went for 15 and 59 yards.


“Flowers is a playmaker. Not only him, I thought Tetoe Boyd ran the ball extremely hard," said Wheeler. "We've got to stay on blocks, the little things. There will be better days, I'll guarantee you.”


Boyd carried 18 times for 60 hard-won yards.


Central senior quarterback Dakota Fawver sliced the Cleveland defense for 311 yards and four TDs. On the ground, the Raiders held the Bobcats to 104 yards and had five tackles for losses. 


Trailing 21-7 late in the second quarter, the Raiders had a chance to swing momentum with Central looking at a fourth-and-2 with time running out in the half. Instead, a 4-yard gain for a first down led to an 18-yard touchdown pass and a 28-7 Bobcats lead.


“If we stop that fourth-down play we've got a chance to maybe stick one in before the half and make it a one-score game and have all the momentum,” Wheeler recalled. “We were that close.”


Central opened the second half with two more points on a Cleveland safety and scored on touchdown passes of 30 and 68 yards. An 83-yard kick return after a Raiders score made it a 51-20 game.


Cleveland scored twice in the second half on Kinsey-to-Flowers TD passes for 15 and 59 yards.


Wheeler told his team afterward he was pleased with the effort against the current best team in the state.


"I'm proud of them for that. I've said from Day One we're not going to quit. That's just not what we're about," he said.


"We've got a lot of guys that got their feet wet tonight. That wasn't a slouch team we played — they are the defending state champions. Our guys have got to learn from their mistakes," Wheeler said. "I am proud of them for playing hard until the end and continuing not to give up. That's what were going to be about: We're not going to be a team that quits. I'm proud of them for that."


The Blue Raiders will be looking for win No. 1, Friday when they open their home schedule against Hardin Valley at 7:30 p.m.


Cleveland 0 7 6 7 — 20
Knox Central 6 22 9 14 — 51
First Quarter
KC — Braden Gaston 26 pass from Dakota Fawver (kick failed), 0:00
Second Quarter
KC — Gaston 12 run, (Liam Fortner pass from Fawver), 5:49
KC — Kobe King 17 run (Joshua Purcell kick), 3:32
CL — Robert Flowers 92 kick return (Kevin Gomez kick), 3:14
KC — Andrew Ma’khi Anderson 18 pass from Fawver (Purcell kick), 0:04
Third Quarter
KC — Safety, snap in end zone, 10:26
KC — Gaston 30 pass from Fawyer (Prcell kick), 4:47
CL — Flowers 15 pass from Kinsey (Gomez kick), 0:35
Fourth Quarter
KC — Anderson 68 pass from Fawyer (Purcell kick), 11:23
CL — Flowers 59 pass from Kinsey (Gomez kick), 7:08
KC — Jonathan Mynatt 83 kick return (Purcell kick), 6:46

Game Stats
First downs 10 121
Rushes-yards 34-115 23-111
Passing 14-110 30-311
Total yards 225 422
Comp-Att-Int 5-13-1 17-30-1
Punts- Avg. 6-25 4-29.7
Fumbles-Lost 7-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 5-46 11-90
Rushing: Tetoe Boyd 18-60, Parker Chastain 2-22 (C); Gaston 2-17, Mynatt 2-10, Ryan Bolton 1-8 (KC).
Passing: Kinsey 7-14-110 (C); Fawyer 17-30-111 (KC).
Receiving: Flowers 4-100, Boyd 1-18 (CL); Anderson 2-86, Jaidin Horton 1-25, Gaston 3-70, Isaiah Osborne 4-61, Dakota Mitchell 1-12, Liam Fortner 1-34, Ryan Bolton 2-24. Records: Cleveland 0-1; Knox Central 1-0.


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