With the possibility of a third straight loss and another sub-.500 record, Southeast Whitfield High School’s football team decided “3-2” and “1-0” looked a lot nicer.
The Raiders boast those records now after rallying from down double digits in the second half Friday at LaFayette’s Rambler Stadium and winning 31-17 in the Sub-region 7B-4A opener for both schools.
LaFayette (0-5, 0-1) took a 14-3 lead after quarterback Lance Estus’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Clayton Underwood with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter.
The drive started the second half, and Southeast coach Sean Gray said it took that long for the Raiders to overcome the new feeling of being expected to win even by those outside the program, which last had a winning season in 1986
“We mentally can’t handle (being the favorites) right now,” Gray said.
Another difference was switching at halftime from the spread offense to a power-run game. Rhett Harper took over quarterback duties in place of Will Swantic, who rushed for 96 yards but also threw an interception.
On the Raiders’ first drive in the second half, Harper hit Colter Faith for a 71-yard score with 8:17 left in the third period.
Michael Pearce recovered a forced fumble, and the Raiders’ offense drove 58 yards to take a 17-14 lead with 1:44 left in the third quarter. Tyler Brown’s 5-yard score was the eighth running play on the nine-play drive.
“I don’t think they planned for the power game,” Harper said. “We have seven seniors in our power package, and I think the experience and the first throw to Colter kicked it in.”
After Dylan Queen’s 21-yard field goal tied the game at 17 early in the fourth quarter, Harper gave the Raiders a 24-17 lead on a 1-yard sneak at the 5:44 mark.
After LaFayette turned the ball over on downs, Southeast’s Damian Manning scored on a 26-yard run with 1:50 remaining.
The Raiders gained 420 yards of total offense with 289 on the ground.
The Ramblers gained 304 yards overall.
“They switched to a power game,” LaFayette coach Chad Fisher said. “You can tell they’ve been in the weight room.”
Southeast grabbed a 3-0 lead when Jonathon Sanchez converted a 32-yard field goal with 9:55 left in the second quarter.