The Long County Blue Tide football team were looking to get back on track after a three-point road loss to Savannah Country Day last week. That was going to be a tough task as they welcomed in the fifth-ranked Savannah Christian Raiders on Friday, Sept. 29., who held on for a 42-32 win.
It was a tough start for the Tide as the Raiders went 65 yards in just two plays on their first drive. Kenry Wall’s 61-yard run set up the Raiders with a first and goal at the 4, leading to a touchdown to put them up 7-0 just 26 seconds into the game.
Keshawn Smith’s big return on the ensuing kickoff set up the Tide at the Raider 31. The Tide faced fourth and 7 from the 28, but that’s when Smith came up with the first of many big catches on the night. Jashaun Manghane found Smith on the Raider sideline to pick up 18 yards and set up a first and goal at the 10.
Two plays later, Manghane hit Chris Hatfield in the back of the endzone to make the score 7-6 after the missed two-point conversion.
On the next possession, the Tide picked up back to back first downs as they set up in Christian territory after an Ahmari Douglas 17-yard run and a short pass to Smith that turned into a 21-yard gain. But the Raiders defense came up with an 8-yard loss and then sack to force a punt.
Taking over at their own 20, the Raiders took the final five minutes of the first quarter off the board before going up 14-6 after a 14-play, 80-yard drive that spanned 5:36.
The offense made its first big mistake of the night as they drove to midfield and faced a second and long. Manghane looked deep as his pass was intercepted and set the Raiders up at their own 29.
The Tide defense made a big stop at midfield as the Raiders decided to go for it on fourth and short and the Tide stood up and forced a turnover on downs.
A personal foul against the Raiders gave the Tide a free 15 yards and set them up at the Raider 37. Douglas only needed one play to get into the endzone and he raced the full length to even the score at 14 after the two-point conversion by Cortney Charles.
On first and 10 from the 41, Jay’Quan Johnson came up with a tackle for loss to set up a 2nd and long. The Raiders picked up 13 yards into Tide territory, but were helped out on a late hit to put the ball at the Tide 34.
Johnson came up big again with a sack to make it second and 17. The Raiders responded, however, with a 27-yard pass to the Tide 14 and scored on the next play to go back in front 21-14.
Charles went to work for the Tide on the next drive, picking up 7 on each of the Tide’s first two plays of the next drive.
Manghane hit Smith for a 13-yard gain and found Charles on a checkdown pass on the next play. Charles did the rest of the work as he worked his way into the endzone from 20 yards out.
With just under a minute left to go in the half, the Tide made the score 21-20. However, the Raiders answered right back.
They needed just three plays to get into the endzone as they picked up 34 and 22 yards on completed passes and set up from the 2 on first and goal. They punched it in on the next play to make the score 28-20 going into halftime.
The third quarter started off poorly as Smith fumbled the kickoff, giving the Raiders the ball at the Tide 35 but the Tide defense held and forced a punt.
The Tide offense faced a four and 1 from the 13 before picking up 2 yards on a Manghane sneak. Two plays later, he hit Douglas up the middle for a 27-yard pickup to midfield.
Manghane threw his second interception of the night on the next play as the Raiders set up at their own 42.
The Raiders went on a nine-play drive that went for 58 yards, taking their biggest lead of the night at 35-20.
Douglas took the handoff and rumbled his way into the endzone from 29 yards out to cut the Raider lead to 35-26 with just under 8 minutes left to play.
The Raiders opened their next drive from their own 26 and proceeded to pick up all 74 yards on the ground, going up 42-26 with 4:19 left to play.
The Tide offense responded with a Douglas 20-yard run and a 13-yard completion to Smith. An 18-yard completion to Hatfield put the Tide inside the Raider 20 before Manghane tossed his third touchdown of the night, this time a 16-yard swing pass to Douglas with 2:18 left in the game.
The Tide recovered the onside kick, taking over at the Raider 48.
Manghane hit Smith for 23 yards and, after a holding penalty, hit him for another 36 to set up first and goal from the 3.
With just one timeout left and less than 90 seconds on the clock, the Tide could not risk running the ball. Three straight incompletions set up a fourth down which fell just short of the goal line as the Raiders took over and ran out the final seconds of the game.
With the loss, the Tide fall to 3-3 and 1-2 in the region, setting up must-win situations in three of their final four games.
They will be on the road next week as they take on the Beach Bulldogs (1-5 overall, 1-2 region) in another region matchup in Savannah.