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Trailing by five points at the start of the fourth quarter, it appeared the Shaw Raiders finally caught the break they needed to pull off an upset over the Class AAA No. 3-ranked Carver Tigers on Thursday at Kinnett Stadium.
A punt by Raiders kicker Adam Yelkovich took an awkward bounce toward the Carver return man, who appeared to touch the ball. He never gained control of it and the Raiders recovered the ball.
But it was the Carver offense that took the field as the officials determined the returner never touched it. It would have given Shaw the ball inside the Carver 40-yard line, but as it was, the Tigers maintained possession for over 10 minutes of the final quarter and held on for the 18-13 win.
You couldnt ask for an official to be in a better position, Shaw head coach Kyle Adkins said. He was standing right there and you got six black hats around the football. If he touches it, we swarm; otherwise, were not going to jump on that ball. Theyre taught to down it. I had six kids come back and tell me, Coach, he touched that football.
The Raiders did get the ball back with 5:45 left to play, but turned the ball over on downs at their own 34-yard line.
On the next play, Carver running back Mario Moore, who had four carries for 83 yards during the game, ran 33 yards to the Raiders 1-yard line. The Raiders, with the help of a few penalties, kept the Tigers from putting the game out of reach, and had one last chance with 46 seconds remaining and the ball on their own 10-yard line.
The Raiders made it to midfield after a personal foul was called on Carver, but Shaw quarterback Chandler Whittleseys final pass fell incomplete. Whittlesey completed 13 of 21 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns and also ran the ball 11 times for 49 yards.
I couldnt have asked them to play any harder than they did, Adkins said. Our kids laid it all out on the field tonight. It was one of those games where its a shame someone has to lose. (We) played just the way I thought they would. This is a resilient bunch.
Carver led 12-6 at the half, but on its first possession of the second half, Shaw drove the ball 67 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Whittlesey to Joe Purter. With a successful conversion, the Raiders took the lead, 13-12.
The fourth-quarter punt return wasnt the only misfortune for the Raiders, though.
In the first quarter, Whittlesey dove forward as he attempted to pick up a first down on third-and-1 at midfield. The ball came out after it appeared he had been down, but Carvers Talik Quarterman scooped up the ball and seconds later was in the end zone. The officials ruled Whittlesey fumbled the ball and allowed the touchdown.
Adkins was upset after the game with the officiating, but said he was proud of his players effort to keep fighting throughout the game.
Were going to get ready for Hardaway, he said. This ones going to sting. Its going to take a couple of days to get over this, coaches included. Its just one game and well move on to the next game.