The bout between the Patriots and the Raiders was a highly anticipated game for high school football. Historically rival schools, the players on each side were prepared for a battle. Coming off a losing streak of 1-2, the Patriots were eager for a win to prove themselves worthy of a state championship, and this was the perfect occasion.
The two teams had met last season with the game ending in the Raiders’ favor; however, the Patriots’ starting quarterback Blake Murphy was injured during that period of the season, putting the team at a disadvantage for that game. This season, Murphy, coming off consistent performances in earlier games, was fit to throw the rock and ready to even the score with Raiders in the rivalry.
The game started with a touchdown from junior running back Mark Fletcher: the 6 foot 1, 225-pound athlete bulldozed and shifted through the Raiders’ defense for an early lead, followed by a field goal from junior Julian Ramirez to add an extra point and make the score 7-0. Minutes later, the Raiders responded with a touchdown pass from quarterback Zion Turner to wide receiver Camden Brown over the head of Patriot cornerback Earl Little, evening the score at 7-7. After a few more offensive plays, the Patriots were able to secure another 7 points because of a quarterback run from junior Blake Murphy; however, this would be the last Patriot touchdown of the night.
The Raiders would respond again with a touchdown catch from Darrieon Craig in the endzone, making the score 14-14 early in the third quarter. Going back to offensive play, the Patriots had another chance to tip the scales against their rivals, but a fumble from Murphy would cost them the opportunity. The loose ball was capitalized on by Raider linebacker Isiah Hardge, giving his team the first lead of the night and leaving the Patriots to catch up. After this, the Patriots had a successful defensive turn, not allowing the Raiders to stack their points and extending their lead; however their following offensive turn would bring calamity for the Patriots.
A failed scramble from Murphy would result in him being aggressively hit by a Raider. The junior was severely injured during the play, so much so that the player had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, leaving the Patriots yet again without their starting quarterback against the Raiders. Both teams kneeled as a show of respect for the injured quarterback, who was confirmed to have a broken ankle after the game concluded.
Continuing with the game, there was little time left, leaving the Patriots with no hope to even the score with their rivals. There were a few promising plays including punt returns and catches from junior wide receiver Brandon Iniss and senior wide receiver Emory Clemons, but none of the efforts were enough to sustain a comeback. The game ended with a final three point kick from the Raiders, making the final score 24-16.
Although the Patriots ended the game on a negative note, most of their attention was on the health of their teammate Murphy.
“Yeah, it really sucks that we lost, and our record isn’t looking too good right now, but really I just hope Blake is okay. He took a serious hit, and I know it’s going to take a while to recover from that physically and mentally. In our next game, we will be balling out for him,” senior linebacker Jaeden Kinlock said.
The Patriots now look forward to another rival matchup against Cardinal Gibbons away at their home field. Winning this game is important for the team, as they now have something to prove to their competitors and themselves. The end goal is to add another state championship to their collection from previous years, as the Patriots aim to turn their season around one step at a time.