Ravenwood captured the Region 6-6A championship Friday night and a home playoff game thanks to a 22-13 victory over visiting Independence.
Middle Tennessee was pummeled with torrential rains shortly after game time, making coaches rethink their game plans with the sloppy field conditions.
“At the beginning of the year, Ravenwood wasn’t getting a lot of press,” Raptors coach Matt Daniels said. “We trusted in our locker room and what we were doing here. The kids and coaches dedicated so much time, and it’s starting to pay off at this point.”The Raptors had to go away from their high tempo style in favor of pounding the football with Jordan Smith and Nick Stallcup, both of whom scored touchdowns for Ravenwood (8-2).
“It was awkward for us,” Daniels said. “That almost incites panic, not being able to get plays off as quick as we can.
“We challenged them at halftime, we said, ‘Let’s show them who is the better running team.’”
Ravenwood will host La Vergne in a first round playoff game next week, while Independence (5-5) will travel to face Smyrna.
The two teams played to a stalemate in the first half, with both gaining and losing momentum with big plays on both sides of the football. Ravenwood’s defense turned it up a notch in the second half, however, holding Indy’s big play offense to zero passing yards.
Troy Henderson’s 91-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter gave Indy a brief advantage, but Ravenwood stayed resilient with its tweaked offensive and defensive plan, Daniels said.
“We knew this was going to be a game that was won on the ground,” he said. “We just told them don’t try to do too much, and let’s try to stay on our feet and make tackles.”
The Raptors’ first touchdown came on a Smith fumble at the 5-yard line that was recovered by Ravenwood in the end zone for the score. Indy wouldn’t get on the board until early in the second quarter with T.J. Sheffield running it in from five yards away.
Max French’s 41-yard field goal as the second quarter expired were the only other points scored in the first half, as the Raptors held a slim 10-7 advantage.
Indy kicker Weston Landry missed twice in the first half, the second of which was blocked by the Raptors.
The third quarter was scoreless, then Henderson outran the Ravenwood defense to give Indy its first lead at 13-10 with 9:21 left in the game. Stallcup countered for the Raptors on their next possession, though, with a 24-yard TD run to regain a 16-13 lead.
Smith’s 36-yard TD run capped off the scoring after Ravenwood stopped Indy on a fake punt with 5:28 left, then Smith scored two plays later.