With his 0-3 team trailing visiting Atholton, 14-0, at halftime Saturday, Long Reach senior Rob Carter had a reason to be dismayed. But rather than get down, the running back got to work, rushing for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and leading his team to a 15-14 win on homecoming.
"We just had to keep playing, we already knew the talent we had on this team, we just had to keep fighting, I never gave up on my team," said Carter, who gained 80 yards on 16 carries in the second half alone. "This was just an all-together team win ... I could not do anything without this line, we just started fighting, we kept pushing and we kept running the same play. We saw what was working. We kept piling up. They couldn't stop us so we just got two touchdowns out of it."
Atholton, which was 10-2 last year, fell to 0-4 with the loss.
"We're decimated up front ... we're not healthy, we've got eight significant injuries right now so we're just looking for answers ... but the kids fought hard and in the second half they ran the ball down our throats and we're not very deep in the middle," first year coach John Swigart said. "It's a difficult game to win if you can't stop a team that's just running the ball between the tackles all day ... but if we get healthy we can do some good things."
The Raiders scored twice in the first half, on a 5-yard run by Jordan Mason, and a 7-yard touchdown pass from Lamarre Whitlock to C.J. Williams five seconds before halftime.
In the second half, Long Reach's Troy Roundtree blocked a punt that set up the Lightning's second touchdown, and then quarterback C.J. Smalley hit Brandan Barrington over the middle for the go-ahead two-point conversion.
Atholton's ensuing drive pushed all the way inside the Long Reach ten-yard line after a 36-yard 4th-and-10 pass from Whitlock to Jordan Mason, but Long Reach's Darryl Montgomery blocked the Atholton go-ahead field goal attempt with less than three minutes left.
"This is what happens when you believe in each other and trust each other, you can't win by yourself," first-year Long Reach coach Jamie Willis said. "Our seniors lead us all the time in everything we do. Troy Roundtree with the huge block on the punt and Darryl Montgomery on the extra point, just awesome."