BONNE TERRE — The North County Raiders overcame a slippery field, and a less than impressive first half performance to pick up their second win of the year on Friday, defeating the Soldan Tigers 38-14.
The Raiders got a big play on the opening kickoff, as Mark Stolle returned the ball to the Soldan 15. Quarterback Adam Howard looked for Stolle twice at the goal line on the ensuing drive, but the ball was dropped both times.
The Raiders were bailed out after the Tigers took an offside penalty on a fourth down and three situation, but a holding call against North County ont eh next play moved the ball back to the 11-yard-line. Dan Harris rumbled from there for a touchdown to put North County ahead 7-0.
Soldan went backwards on their opening drive, which started at their own 24. Steve Skaggs sacked Tigers’ quarterback Roren Thomas at the 7, setting up a fourth down and long situation. Rather than punt, Soldan opted to throw a pass which fell incomplete, giving the Raiders a first down and goal at the Soldan 3.
As quickly as the Raiders got obtained possession, they gave it up. A fumble near the end zone, handed the ball back to the Tigers. Mike Herbst made a key interception at the Soldan 20, but once again the Raiders wasted a golden opportunity to score, as Howard was intercepted.
Yet another turnover occurred as Soldan fumbled the ball inside their 20, allowing the Raiders to set up deep in their territory. North County failed to gain a first down, but kicker Mitch Viner nailed a 32-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 10-0 advantage.
Soldan did not pick up a first down during the opening quarter of the contest, but a long, 71-yard touchdown run by Justin Easley down the right sideline got the Tigers on the scoreboard with 2:25 to play. The following two-point conversion was good to make it a 10-8 game.
The Raiders’ initial possession of the second quarter stalled at the Soldan 29, after an incomplete pass on fourth down. A big play by the special teams unit sparked the Raiders to another score. Rick Quevreaux blocked a punt to give North County the ball at the Soldan 35.
Howard found Shea Brady for a 21-yard gain down to the Tigers’ 14. Harris capped the five-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 5:30 to go in the first half, to give the Raiders some breathing room at 17-8.
The Raiders were poised to score again on their next drive, but another fumble inside the Soldan 10 put a stop to that effort. The punting execution was dreadful throughout the game for the Tigers, and the Raiders made them pay a second time late in the half.
The snap from center was fumbled by the Soldan punter, allowing North County’s Brandon Mahurin to fall on it in the end zone for a touchdown. The Raiders carried a 24-8 lead into the locker room.
North County simplified its offense in the third quarter by running the ball into the teeth of the Soldan defense, and it worked well. Stolle broke loose for a 20-yard run on the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage in the second half. Six plays later, Quevreaux slammed into the end zone with a 2-yard run to make it a 31-8 game.
After another Soldan punt, the Raiders moved down the field and finished off a seven play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run by Nick Neeley to increase the lead to 38-8.
The Raiders’ defense forced Soldan to punt on each of its first three possessions of the second half. As a result the Raiders were able to rest their starters in the fourth quarter. Soldan ended the scoring with 1:48 to play in the game, thanks to a 23-yard touchdown reception by Jason Hunt. Each team committed five turnovers in the game.
Howard connected on 6-15 passes for 56 yards in the first half, with several attempts being dropped by his receivers. Howard threw one pass in the second half, but it resulted in a pass interference call against Soldan.
Harris led the Raiders in rushing with 45 yards on a dozen carries, and two touchdowns. Neeley ran seven times for 27 yards and a touchdown in the second half. Stolle racked up 43 yards on four rushes.
The Raiders (2-0) will play their first road contest on Friday, when they travel to Perryville on Friday.