MECHANICSVILLE – The Atlee Raiders pitched a shutout on senior night, blanking the Mechanicsville Mustangs 33-0 to earn their second win of the abbreviated season.
The Raider defense stood tall all night, holding the Mustangs to 58 yards total offense.
Meanwhile, the Atlee offense overcame a slow start, in time finding a nice rhythm. Running back Eric Rankin and the rest of the Raider backfield was able to wear down the Mustangs in the second half en route to victory.
Despite the lopsided result, the game’s opening quarter saw very little action, as both offenses tried to settle into the game. The Atlee defense was particularly staunch. On the Mustang’s final drive of the quarter, Atlee defensive back Luke Jasinski had a critical pass break up, and defensive end Braden Eastman had a key sack on consecutive plays to give the Raiders good field position to start the second quarter.
A few plays into quarter, Atlee quarterback Mike Joyce called his own number. From just outside the red zone, Joyce, who was looking to pass, stepped up and broke through the middle of the line of scrimmage on his way to the end zone to break the scoreless tie.
After another quick three-and-out by the Mechanicsville offense, Atlee would again benefit from a short a field. On this possession the Raiders leaned heavily on both Rankin and fellow running back Joseph Slade. The two players followed their offensive line down the field before Slade punched it in for the score as the Raiders began to seize control of the game. The extra point attempt was blocked.
The Mustangs’ final possession of the half would be their most promising of the night. Quarterback Logan Harris dialed up a long run to get his team well into Raider territory. A few plays later, with the Mustangs operating in a hurry up mode, Mechanicsville attempted a wide receiver pass that resulted in a defensive pass interference call, getting the Mustangs to within 15 yards of their first points.
That would be as close as they would get. On fourth down, Harris threw a quick pass to tight end Aaron Maxie who was stopped a few yards short to end the half.
The Raiders continued in the second half right where they left off, albeit with some new faces. When Joyce had to leave the game with an injury, he was replaced by Andrew Stevens. Stevens would capitalize on his opportunity, scoring on a pair of 10-yard runs to put the finishing touches on a dominant Raider performance.
“I prepared well, and we had a great week of practice” Stevens said. “I felt very ready when my number was called. . . . The blocking up front was excellent all night. I give all the credit to the offensive line.”
Stevens’ praise for the offensive line was well deserved as the unit helped to propel the Raiders to 228 rushing yards, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Raider running back Michael Fox would close out the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run in the final seconds.
“I saw a nice hole to run through, and the line helped give me a final push to get the last few yards” Fox said.
The two schools will close out their regular seasons next week. Atlee travels to crosstown rival Hanover, and Mechanicsville hosts playoff-bound Patrick Henry to determine which team earns the Tomato Bowl trophy.
Dan Fritz can be reached at email@example.com.