Champs can't cash in on chances, fall to Raiders
SPRING HILL -- Call it a "could-have-won" or perhaps a "should-have-won" District 12-AA opener for the Cascade Champions (1-2, 0-1 12-AA).
The Champions had their chances on Friday night, but just couldn't quite get over the hump and suffered a 24-20 loss to Spring Hill (3-0, 1-0 12-AA).
"I told the kids they just have to give us a chance to win. Our defense stepped up big tonight. Our offense played well at times," said Cascade coach Jake Tyre.
"We're right there."
Scoring breaks out
The teams traded blows in the opening frame, with the Raiders striking first blood on a 39-yard touchdown run by Nick Wakefield.
The Champions responded with a quick, four-play drive capped off with a five-yard run by senior tailback Ivan Spencer--who played the entire game with a sprained ankle.
Following the Cascade score, the Raiders answered on another big play barely two minutes later on a 64-yard touchdown run by Malcom Nicholson.
While the Raiders gashed the Champions for big gains on the ground in the first half, including two scores on long runs, Cascade played a bend-don't-break defense in the second quarter.
Riding that momentum off the defensive effort, Cascade carried that surge of morale into the second half, giving up just one final touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Cascade moved the ball efficiently in the first quarter, but struggled to find its rhythm in the second frame.
Despite the offense struggling to move the chains, Cascade's defense came up with a big stand on its own eight-yard line, forcing the Raiders to settle with a 24-yard field goal with 2:30 left in the half.
Cascade took the ensuing drive inside of two minutes deep into Raider territory, converting on a third and long and a fourth and long.
But with inside of five seconds left, Champion quarterback Austin Hass was picked off in the end zone.
Needing a spark, Tyre challenged his team during the half, and saw immediate results early in the third quarter.
Speeding to TD
Lightning struck with 9:34 to go in the quarter when Spencer caught a block and sped past the Raider defense for a 54-yard touchdown.
"I told him at halftime that if he broke through that second line, he's going to the house. He played a gutsy game. Twenty carries for 161 yards on a bum ankle--I'll take that every day of the week," Tyre said.
After Spencer's score brought the Champions within three points, Cascade's defense forced another field goal try by the Raiders, this time from 45 yards.
The 45-yard kick by Ethan Hultgren, however, missed well short of the uprights.
Champs take lead
Following the defensive stand, Cascade was able to orchestrate a 13-play drive where Hass connected on 4-of-4 attempts that saw Spencer finish off with a 24-yard scoring run, giving Cascade a 20-17 lead.
The momentum, was once again short-lived as Spring Hill answered on a 14-yard touchdown run by Wakefield, which proved to be the final score.
While Cascade continued to hold its ground following the Wakefield score, the Champion offensive line struggled at times against the pressure defense.
"It's just the nature of the beast of having five offensive linemen and they're bringing seven or eight sometimes. We were trying to hit some quick stuff," Tyre said.
Cascade did run the ball well, running off 35 rushing plays for 199 yards, led by Spencer's 20-carry night for 3 touchdowns and 161 yards.
"We ran the ball pretty well once we got the blocks. We just have to step up and make the plays when its time to make the plays," Tyre said.
Hass scrambled eight times for 27 yards while sophomore Jalil Singleton carried the ball six times for 11 yards.
Hass also was 15-of-28 for 114 yards, with Patrick Haddock hauling in six catches for 34 yards.
Cascade did well moving the chains at times against the Raiders, effectively converting five third-downs and a pair of fourth downs.
Defensively, the Raiders proved elusive and difficult to tackle all night long.
Still, Cascade was led by senior Baron Hoffmeister's nine-tackle night. Caleb Miller added eight as well.
While Cascade managed 313 total offensive yards, the Raiders nearly out-gained the Champions by 100 yards.
Spring Hill piled up 401 total offensive yards against Cascade, with 321 coming on the ground.
Had a chance
While no coach is happy with a loss, Tyre was pleased that his team battled until the end and had chances to win until the final seconds.
"As long as they give me the chance every game, I'm happy. I'm not happy with the loss, but I'm happy with the chance to win the game," Tyre said.
Cascade will return home next Friday and will host Community, before facing an all-out gauntlet facing Giles County and Moore County.
Cascade 7 0 7 6 -- 20
Spring Hill 14 3 0 7 -- 24
SH -- Nick Wakefield 39 run (Ethan Hultgren kick) 6:33.
C -- Ivan Spencer 5 run (Trent Sutton kick) 5:29.
SH -- Malcolm Nicholson 64 run (Hultgren kick). 3:33.
SH -- Hultgren 24 Field Goal 2:30.
C -- Spencer 54 run (Sutton kick) 9:34.
C -- Spencer 24 run (Kick failed) 11:49.
SH -- Wakefield 14 run (Hultgren kick) 10:20.