BONNE TERRE – Potosi was a successful extra point away from tying North County early in the fourth quarter on Friday night despite having its football roster decimated by injuries.
The Raiders would endure the challenge with 20 consecutive points behind several strong running plays, however, and pulled away for a 33-18 victory in their scheduled home finale.
Junior tailback Briley Smith compiled 179 yards on 26 rushing attempts, and totaled four touchdowns while quarterback Kolten Poorman added 115 yards on the ground for North County (5-3).
The Raiders relied defensively on three timely stops inside the red zone, including a goal-line stand the helped protect a 13-6 advantage into halftime.
Tucker Smith recorded a team-high nine tackles plus a fumble recovery in the victory. Seniors Garrett Smith and Eli Turnbough added seven stops apiece.
Potosi (3-5) controlled field position throughout the third quarter, thanks to two excellent punts by Zach Haynes, and put together an impressive 73-yard drive after Dylan Wright recovered a fumble.
Haynes made a 19-yard reception, and strong runs by Kyle Allison and Demond Guthrie also moved the chains as the Trojans further threatened.
Sophomore Jake Casey took a reverse handoff on a fourth-down snap from the North County 11, and raced to the pylon for a touchdown with 11:43 remaining in the game.
A low PAT was blocked, keeping the Raiders’ marginal advantage at 13-12, and the home team stayed in front amid several questionable calls and frequent penalties against both sides down the stretch.
Poorman answered with perhaps his most dynamic rushing effort of the season to invigorate the Raiders just 53 seconds later after his squad handled a squib kick.
The sophomore kept the ball on an option play and avoided contact with the left sideline before plowing through a final defender and crashing into the endzone for a 41-yard touchdown.
Raiders lineman Brendan McClure sacked Trojans quarterback Noah Jacobsen on the ensuing series, and North County regained possession despite a vehement protest from the Potosi sideline.
The Trojans appealed that their punt may have touched a North County player in coverage before being corralled by a Potosi man. But the play had already been whistled dead by an official.
Briley Smith shot through the middle on a 34-yard run moments later, then went the final eight yards to create a 26-12 lead with 8:17 to play.
Jacobsen scrambled 46 yards on the next Potosi drive to give his team some hope of a comeback, but he was sacked by Tucker Smith on fourth down from the 15.
Raiders receiver Jason Mahurin fumbled after catching a pass downfield, but Briley Smith scooped the ball and darted the final 18 yards to complete the play for a clinching touchdown.
Poorman was 9-of-16 passing for 122 yards, and connected three times each with Brian Chandler and Mahurin.
Jacobsen finished 13-of-23 for 216 yards, and capped the scoring for Potosi with a 58-yard touchdown strike to Kaylon Carmack with 2:22 left.
The Trojans stopped North County three-and-out on their first two defensive series, and capitalized after taking over at the Raiders’ 35.
Jacobsen cut forward on an option play and slithered through the secondary for a 15-yard touchdown and early 6-0 edge.
North County responded with a solid rushing attack, and Briley Smith backed a 19-yard gain with a 2-yard jaunt ahead of Noah Umfleet’s extra point.
The Raiders also scored on their next possession as Smith rambled 17 yards to extend its newfound 7-6 margin, then stopped a pair of otherwise positive marches by Potosi before halftime.
North County stuffed back-to-back rushing plays at the goal line, and Blake Decker broke up a dangerous pass to the endzone later in the second quarter.
Poorman directed a solid 2-minute drive by North County, finding Cole Ziegler and Chandler for nice gains. But he was intercepted by a leaping Brendan Hovis in the endzone.
Casey made a team-high five receptions for 77 yards, including a 48-yard grab over the middle on a nifty scramble by Jacobsen in the early minutes. But the visitors fumbled on the next play.
Guthrie and Allison each had 61 rushing yards while Doug Brand and Colin Govero each provided six tackles for Potosi.
Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org