South Warren suffers first loss to Ravenwood (TN)
BRENTWOOD, Tenn.—South Warren does not have fond memories of the Volunteer State.
Pope John Paul II (Hendersonville) defeated the Spartans 56-42 last season, and South Warren once again fell just short versus a Tennessee opponent, losing 31-17 to Ravenwood High School on Friday night in Brentwood.
South Warren (7-1) was definitely in uncharted waters through the first quarter-and-a-half, as the Spartans trailed 10-0 after Raptor quarterback Brian Garcia connected with Parker Nash for a 33-yard scoring strike at the 6:47 mark of the second quarter.
However, the Spartans quickly found their rhythm, as junior quarterback Gavin Spurrier connected with senior wide out Marcus Elmore five times in a row for 77 yards to set up a first-and-goal before senior fullback Cody Eblen took it out of the Wildcat formation and rumbled in two yards for the score to cut the deficit to 10-7.
After Ravenwood turned the football over on downs at the South Warren 35-yard line with 1:15 remaining in the half, the Spartans marched all the way to the Raptor 2-yard line before Eblen was stuffed at the goal line on the last play of the first half.
South Warren received the kickoff to start the second half, and the Spartans drove deep into the red zone due to several Raptor penalties for pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct. Senior kicker Alex Cohron’s 25-yard field goal knotted the game up at 10 apiece at the 7:44 mark of the third quarter.
After coming up with a defensive stop, the Spartans had yet another first-and-goal after a 17-yard pass completion from Spurrier to Eblen. Senior running back Christian Winn took the handoff up the middle and plowed his way into the end zone on the next play to give South Warren a 17-10 lead with 50 seconds left in the third.
But that lead would only last for 26 seconds.
On the Raptors’ first play from scrimmage, sophomore Jordan Smith took it straight up the gut and scampered 69 yards untouched into the end zone.
After a fumble by South Warren junior Clayton Bush gave Ravenwood the ball deep in Spartan territory, the Raptors capitalized on the solid field positon with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by senior Nick Stallcup to pull back in front, 24-17, with 7:50 left in regulation.
The Spartans went three-and-out on their next drive, and a 19-yard scoring run by Ravenwood sophomore with 5:22 remaining effectively put the game out of reach.
South Warren coach Brandon Smith says his team can learn a good deal from the loss.
“We battled back but I thought we kept shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again,” Smith said. “You just can’t make those kinds of mistakes against a good team and expect to be successful.
The Spartans converted just three-of-six times when they had the ball in Raptor territory, and South Warren also had two of its punts blocked.
Despite the loss, South Warren still saw a few positives. Spurrier seemed to settle down after a rocky start in an intimating road environment, the junior completing 18-of-31 passes for 219 yards after starting the game 3-of-11 for 12 yards.
But the offensive surprise of the night was Elmore. Elmore had just 128 receiving yards on the season prior to Friday night’s game, but the senior hauled in six passes for 120 yards against Ravenwood, and also drew countless pass interference calls against the Raptors.
“Tonight just happened to be his night,” said Smith when asked if the Spartans were employing a new strategy. “He had some favorable matchups, he kept taking them, and he kept capitalizing on his opportunities.”
South Warren will enjoy a bye week before playing a tough road game at district foe Bowling Green on Oct. 20—a game that definitely has major playoff implications in Class 5A.
“We have to fix some of the things that came to light (Friday night),” Smith said. “There’s obviously some issues that we have to overcome. We’re not far off but at the same time we have a lot of work to get done in two weeks.”
Ravenwood will also enjoy a bye week before returning to action at Fairview (TN).