The Columbia Flying Raiders defeated the Hinesville Hurricanes, 20-17, on Saturday in a game that came down to the final seconds. With two seconds left, a field goal attempt by Hurricane kicker/wide receiver Ed Smith came up short after it was partially blocked.
The Raiders came on strong early in the game, controlling the ball for nearly 13 minutes in the first period and taking an 8-0 lead. However, on the ensuing Raider kick-off, Hurricane Tracy Lewis fielded the ball and raced 73 yards for a score. The PAT failed, making the score 8-6 in the Raiders’ favor.
The Columbia team got the ball again to start the second period and drove down for another score. But with the ball on the 30-yard line in the Hurricane’s territory, Hinesville linebacker Craig Edwards made a big tackle behind the line of scrimmage, making it fourth and 10 for a first down. On the next play, he sacked the Raider quarterback for a loss, giving the ’Canes the ball back on their own 48-yard line.
When the home team got the ball back on a second and 12 call from the Raider 41-yard line, the Hinesville quarterback hooked up with wide-out Smith and raced down the sideline for a touchdown. After a second failed PAT, the score was Hurricanes 12, Raiders 8.On their next possession, the Raiders were unable to score and the ’Canes got the ball back with less than a minute in the game. Deep in their own territory, Hinesville head coach James Sharp had his team go for the kill and put the ball in the air. No one anticipated what happened next. A Raiders defender picked off the ball and flew into the end zone for a score. The visitors failed on the extra point, making the score 14-12 in the Flying Raiders’ favor with 31 seconds left in the half.
Not to be discouraged, the Hurricanes drove down the field and, with two seconds left in the half, Smith booted a 41-yard field goal between the uprights, giving the home team a 15-14 lead.
The second half was a defensive battle. The Raiders defense scored a TD off an interception, and the Hurricanes scored an intentional safety when they had the visitors backed up deep in their own territory
With the score at 20-17 and two seconds left on the clock, the Hurricanes lined up and gave Smith a shot at a 35-yard field goal to tie the game. However, the Columbia team got a hand on the ball and the kick came up short, resulting in a disappointing loss for the ’Canes.
"We made some minor mistakes, some that we have to fix, but it’s nothing we can’t overcome," Sharp said after the game. "Both the offense and the defense played well tonight, both gave an outstanding effort."
Of the Flying Raiders the coach said, "They’re a championship team. They did a good job tonight and came to play football."
With the loss, the Hurricanes are 2-1, and the Raiders improved to 2-1.