A tale of two teams.
A betting individual knows where to place his money when picking his horse; you put your faith in the one with the best pedigree.
Friday night proved all bets are off at the end of the season. The East Carter Raiders ran its way through, scratch that, over the Morgan County defense, pulling out a shocking 41-18 defeat of the playoff bound Cougars in Grayson.
A team that’s had its fair share of heartbreaks during the season, East Carter (2-8) saw an umpteenth sequel on display in the early going when the Cougars (8-2) took just three plays to deliver the game’s first score when Kody Thornsberry dashed to the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.
Trailing 6-0 after a failed Cougar conversion, East Carter senior fullback Cade Stidham began his journey toward his swan song in the upset.
East Carter needed just five plays to get into the end zone. Stidham carried the ball on four of them, gaining 65 yards on the drive as he bulldozed his way in for an 11-yard score up the gut with eight minutes to play. Quinn Huddle’s extra point gave the Raiders a 7-6 lead, which it did not relinquish the rest of the night.
Stidham made the most of his senior night in the spotlight, tallying an impressive 204 yards on 29 carries while scoring three touchdowns.
“I can’t think of a better way to go out,” Stidham said. “You’ve got an 8-1 team against a 1-8 team. Not many people gave us a chance tonight, but we were glad to prove them wrong.”
East Carter Coach Zack Moore shared his fullback’s excitement.
“Cade and the rest of these seniors have never quit, and that’s a credit to them,” Moore said. “They’ve persisted and kept playing hard throughout losing so many games, and I am very happy for them here tonight.”
After quarterback Donovan Roe scrambled his way in for the Raiders’ second score, Morgan County fought back when fullback Jordan Whitt rumbled his way 27 yards to pay dirt late in the first quarter.
Another failed two-point conversion marked the final time the Cougars would see East Carter’s lead below a touchdown.
With the score 21-12 in favor of the Raiders, the true momentum changer came in the final minute of the second, when Cole Boggs sacked Larrin Collins on a 4th-and-12 to allow East Carter some insurance with another Donovan Roe rushing score.
A blocked extra point saw the Raiders enter halftime with an unexpected 27-12 advantage.
“The kids at East Carter have really played a pretty tough schedule and we really felt like they were a better team than their 1-8 record showed,” Morgan County coach Brian Turner said. “Coach Moore had his team fired up here tonight and it showed.”
It wasn’t all bad for Morgan County. Thornsberry had another impressive outing, gathering 132 rushing yards on 14 carries, while collecting two touchdowns.
East Carter finishes its 2012 campaign at 2-8, its best season in three years, while Morgan County (8-2) returns home for a first-round 3A playoff bout against Lawrence County next Friday night.
EAST 14 13 0 14 — 41
MORGAN 12 0 0 6 — 18
M — Kody Thornsberry 23 run (2-point failed) 10:42
E — Cade Stidham 11 run (Quinn Huddle kick) 7:45
E — Donovan Roe 7-yard run (Huddle kick) 3:15
M — Jordan Whitt 27 run (2-point failed) 2:25
E — Stidham 8 run (Huddle kick) 10:02
E — Roe 2 run 0:02
E — Stidham 25 pass from Roe (Huddle kick) 9:21
M — Kody Thornsberry 1 run 7:00
E — Trey Barker 34 run (Huddle kick) 2:41