Red Raiders fall in close battle with Badgers 28-26
BY STONE LEXINGTON
(Burton, Ohio) — Both the Harvey Red Raiders and Berkshire Badgers entered Friday night’s contest against one another clinging to a possible playoff berth. With only a few games remaining on their schedules, neither team wants to fall out of postseason position so close to the tournament.
Meeting on senior night at Dr. William A. Reed Field, home to the Badgers, both teams controlled their own destiny to accomplish their goal of reaching the postseason. The top 16 teams in each region of the OHSAA computer rankings will qualify for the playoffs this year, and both Berkshire and Harvey found themselves just inside the select group this week.
When Tuesday’s weekly rankings came out, Harvey had jumped from 18th to 15th in Division III Region 9 following their thrilling two-point win over Chaney last week that ended with the Red Raiders securing a safety in the final minute. Meanwhile, Berkshire jumped from 19th to 16th this week in Division V Region 17 after dropping 53 points in a win over Hawken last Friday. Plainly put, another win for each team would go a long way into keeping their spot in the top 16.
Nevertheless, it was Berkshire that came out on top with a 28-26 victory over Harvey on Friday night in a back-and-forth affair.
It was a tale of one-play drives in the first quarter. After beginning the opening drive at their own 20-yard line, Berkshire quarterback Josh Brown connected with a wide open Lucas Stoddard over the middle for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive. The score was 7-0 less than 15 seconds into the game, but Harvey soon responded.
Following a Rick Coleman Jr. interception of the Badgers two drives later, Coleman worked his magic on the other side of the ball, throwing a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of Harvey’s second drive to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter. Berkshire, however, was not done scoring in the opening period.
On the ensuing possession, the Badgers used a nine-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a Brown 5-yard quarterback keeper into the end zone as time expired in the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Harvey, though, responded again on the first possession of the second quarter.
Like two heavyweight prizefighters throwing punches back-and-forth, both teams continued to answer score-for-score in the second quarter. Beginning the first drive of the second quarter on their own 45-yard line after a failed Berkshire onside kick attempt, Harvey used a four-play, 55-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 14. Coleman accounted for every yard on the drive, two of which coming on the ground and the rest through the air, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Katory Shaw in the corner of the end zone.
In response on the next drive, the Badgers used 15 plays to drive 65 yards for another touchdown, as Brown took another keeper into the end zone, this time from four yards out with 2:47 to play in the first half. Harvey, though, countered again, scoring less than 20 seconds later on the first play of the next drive, as Coleman threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Shaw. The Red Raiders, though, missed the extra point and trailed 21-20 heading into halftime.
After Harvey’s drive stalled on the opening possession of the second half, Berkshire scored again on the ensuing possession with a drive that began on its own 15-yard line. Ten plays later with light showers beginning to fall, Brown scampered into the end zone again, this time from two yards out that gave Berkshire a 28-20 lead. On the drive, he converted a crucial 3rd-and-17 pass to Stoddard from the Badgers’ own 30-yard line to keep the drive alive.
Harvey punched back on the next possession, driving 55 yards for its fourth touchdown of the game. Coleman connected with sophomore receiver Davon Badley on a short slant, which the receiver took 50 yards to the house, outrunning the Berkshire defense in the process. The Red Raiders failed to convert a two-point conversion and trailed 28-26 with 4:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Unlike much of the game, the defenses held the rest of the way, as neither team managed another point under heavier rainfall. Harvey had the ball with a little more than a minute to play in their own territory, but they weren’t able to generate any offense. Berkshire’s defense held, and the Badgers kneeled out the rest of the clock.
Coming up just short of their first three-game winning streak of the season, Harvey fell to 4-4 on the season. The Red Raiders have two games remaining on their schedule, both on the road against Hawken and Lutheran West. They may need to win both games in hopes of securing a playoff spot.
Meanwhile, Berkshire moved to 5-3, avoiding their third loss in four games. The Badgers have two games remaining on their schedule, both on the road against Beachwood and Cardina
POSTED 10/09/2021 00:50