By Maurice Patton
THOMPSONS STATION – Trailing at the half for a second straight game, Independence wasn’t able to reprise its rally from a week ago and lost 28-14 to visiting Ravenwood in Friday’s regular-season and Region 6-6A finale.
The defeat will send the Eagles (6-2, 4-1) on the road for the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs, as they earned the third seed and will travel to LaVergne, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-6A. Ravenwood, the second seed from 6-6A, will have a bye as Region 5-6A No. 3 seed Stewarts Creek will be unable to play because of COVID restrictions.
“From here out, if you want to play, you’ve got to beat Brentwood and Ravenwood again,” said Independence coach Scott Blade, whose team won 26-21 at Brentwood in Week 10 to put itself in position to play for the league title. “We’ve beat them, they’ve beat us.”
Ravenwood (6-4, 4-1) had won the previous seven meetings in the series, and took control quickly in this one – scoring two touchdowns in 12 plays and leading 14-0 with just less than five minutes remaining in the opening period.
“You saw a team that came out on a mission,” Raptors coach Matt Daniels said. “We played well defensively, against a tough Indy offense. We struggled to get a push offensively, but I think we set the tone on defense. We were flying around, getting four, five, six guys running to the ball.”
Though quarterback Trevor Andrews threw for the two early scores – a 27-yarder to Ross Johnston and a 73-yarder to Justin Smitherman – and added a 13-yarder to Johnston before halftime, the senior signalcaller did the bulk of his damage on the ground. Andrews finished with a game-high 108 rushing yards on 18 carries, including a 15-yarder on the final play of the third quarter to set up Junior Colson’s 2-yard plunge for the final margin.
“It seems when we need three or four yards, Trevor is our guy,” Daniels said. “He’s smart, he falls forward and he’s sneaky as an athlete. In November and December, you don’t really want to run your quarterback that much, but he wants the ball in his hands.”
While Ravenwood set the tempo initially, Independence had played itself back into the game by intermission, cutting into a pair of two-TD deficits with a 17-yard Jaxson Campbell pass to Brigham Morrical midway through the second quarter and a 31-yarder to Ty Lockwood on fourth-and-10 with less than 20 seconds remaining in the half.
But on a potential game-tying drive to open the second half, Campbell fumbled in the red zone for the first of three Independence turnovers in the final 24 minutes.
“We moved the ball; we just couldn’t finish. Some of that was me, with three turnovers. I’ve got to clean that up,” said Campbell, who threw an interception that would have been a ‘pick-6’ if not for a sideline interference penalty against the Raptors and fumbled again on what turned out to be the hosts’ final possession.
“We’re still a good team. We’re still looking to make a deep (playoff) run. This is not the end of our season.”
The defeat was Independence’s first since opening the season with a 40-34 loss to Summit.
“It was a physical, well-fought game,” Blade said. “They made fewer mistakes than us. With two closely matched teams, it comes down to a few plays, and the team that makes them is the team that celebrates – a great catch, a missed catch, a great block, a missed tackle. There’s only a few that stand out, and we didn’t make enough of those.”
Ravenwood 28, Independence 14
at Eagles Stadium
R 14 7 0 7 – 28
I 0 14 0 0 – 14
|R – Ross Johnston 27 pass from Trevor Andrews (7:28), Alex Delperdang kick|
|R – Justin Smitherman 73 pass from Andrews (4:47), Delperdang kick|
|I – Brigham Morrical 17 pass from Jaxson Campbell (7:57), Sam Henke kick|
|R – Johnston 13 pass from Andrews (3:32), Delperdang kick|
|I – Ty Lockwood 31 pass from Campbell (0:11), Henke kick|
|R – Junior Colson 2 run (11:56), Delperdang kick|
|Ravenwood – Justin Smitherman 16-72, Trevor Andrews 18-108, Junior Colson 1-2, Tre Thomas 1-1|
|Independence – Jaxson Campbell 15-23, Tre Hartwell 11-65, Ethan Pickering 1-4|
|Ravenwood – Trevor Andrews 12-18-1, 195, Connor Pace 0-1-0, 0|
|Independence – Jaxson Campbell 17-28-1, 213|
|Ravenwood – Brenden Dickinson 3-18, Conner Pace 1-12, Jake Briningstool 1-11, Ross Johnston 4-56, Lee Molette 1-14, Justin Smitherman 2-84|
|Independence – Calvin Wilson 3-19, Ty Lockwood 8-103, Tyler Kondra 3-52, Ethan Pickering 1-2, Brigham Morrical 1-17, Tre Hartwell 1-20|