Raytown South stuns Harrisonville

Submitted to PrepsKC

By David Svoboda PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 31, 2013 - 10:12 PM

Raytown South’s roller coaster ride of a season will continue for at least another game.
In a contest filled with big plays and wild swings of emotion, the Cardinals used an electric 89-yard kickoff return by junior Stephon Rucker-Carroll with just one minute, 53 seconds remaining to grab a heart-stopping 32-28 win at Harrisonville Thursday night.
Raytown South, now 4-6, moves on to face Pleasant Hill on Wednesday. Harrisonville finishes its season at a disappointing 6-4.
Rucker-Carroll’s heroics were necessary after Harrisonville had marched 79 yards in just six plays over 1:56 to grab the 28-26 lead on a nine-yard run by senior Wildcat quarterback Zach Davidson with just 2:04 left in the contest.
Harrisonville’s lead lasted just 11 seconds – the time it took Rucker-Carroll to grab the ensuing kickoff, weave his way through defenders toward the Wildcat bench, and then race toward a moment neither he nor his teammates will ever forget.
“There were swings on both sides,” a drained-but-happy Raytown South coach David Allie said after the contest. “That was a heck of a high school football game. Right there it was win or go home…somebody’s got to lose.”
And the final four minutes of the contest weren’t the only ones packed with drama. This game was filled with it from the start.
Harrisonville made its initial possession of the contest count, marching 84 yards in 11 plays before senior Mason Saffels ran it in from 11 yards out to give the Wildcats an early 7-0 edge. Saffels would end the night with 114 yards on nine carries.
Ray South hit it big on the opening play of the second quarter, when quarterback Deallon Walton hit Cameron Henderson with a nine-yard scoring pass. The kick, however, was missed, and Harrisonville held on to a 7-6 advantage.
Harrisonville then went on another scoring drive, capping this one on a three-yard run by Austin Hopper midway through the second quarter that made it 14-6 Wildcats following the PAT. Hopper also topped the century mark on the ground for the Wildcats, grinding out 112 yards on 21 carries.
And the Wildcats looked poised to move to an even more comfortable lead when they forced a Raytown South punt just over a minute later.
But Harrisonville’s Sherman Hartzler muffed the punt near his own goal line, and the Cardinals’ Henry Lanear gobbled it up in the end zone to pull his team to within two at 14-12. Walton then hit Josh Crafton with a two-point conversion toss to tie it at 14-14, which is where it stayed until midway through the third quarter.
With just more than five minutes left in the period, Raytown South stopped Harrisonville on a fourth-and-goal play from the two and then proceeded to do the nearly impossible.
Backed up at the one with 99 yards to go to grab the lead, the Cardinals did just that. Faced with third and 15 from their own 10, Walton hit Jabril Cox with a 90-yard catch and run that was as wild as it was improbable. The two-point conversion pass may have failed, but Ray South had its first lead of the night at 20-14.
“Hats off to our kids for their attitudes and resilience,” Allie said of his team, which had earlier dropped a pair of 35-point blowouts but now was standing strong on the road in the first-ever game between the two programs.
After immediately forcing Harrisonville to punt, Raytown South gave the momentum – and the lead – right back to the Wildcats, as Walton threw a pick-six to Harrisonville senior linebacker Mathew Bartlett, who rambled 42 yards for the touchdown and the 21-20 lead following the PAT.
Another Walton scoring pass gave Raytown South the lead at 26-21 and set the stage for the late-game heroics that had each team seemingly poised to take the victory...or to see its season end.
Walton’s night – he was five-of-14 for 123 yards and three TDs, but also threw the aforementioned pick six – was much like the season he and his teammates had battled through for 10 weeks.
The Cards lost their first three contests before breaking through with a victory, and have now won three of their last four at a most opportune time.
“We’ve taken our beatings and have let some close ones slip away,” Allie said. “That’s not to take anything away from anybody else. We just knew that we had to keep our heads in it and keep fighting.”