MECHANICSVILLE – Atlee looked like a team with something to prove on Friday. Having just crossed the halfway point of the season, the Raiders brought a physical brand of football with them when they travelled across town to face Mechanicsville.
The Raiders’ ground and pound rushing attack led by the running back duo of Caleb Warren and Keith Green hammered the Mustang defense en route to a 30-7 victory.
“I thought this was the best week of preparation we’ve had all season,” Warren said. “Offensively and defensively, everyone was able to do their job.”
The defense for the Raiders kept the Mustang offense, led by quarterback Jordan Callahan, in check for most of the night, challenging the line of scrimmage on every play. Defensive lineman Zion Bryson and the rest of the cast of players controlled the game up front and were able to make several key plays in the Mustang’s backfield that helped get the ball back to the Raider offense.
Atlee opened the scoring on their first possession of the game, marching 60 yards on 10 plays. Receiver Tae Gilpin took a swing pass from quarterback Brooks Hollins from just inside the 10-yard line dancing around several Mustang defenders before reaching the end zone.
Mechanicsville looked to even the score on the ensuing possession when running back Cole Varner was able to break through the Raider line for a big gain, setting up his offense well inside Raider territory. The drive came to an end when Green intercepted a Callahan pass just outside the goal line.
After an exchange of possessions, it would be Green again to provide the next big play. The Raider defensive back jumped a route near midfield for his second interception of the game, this time returning it all the way for the score.
“I was able to read the quarterback’s eyes and get a good break on the ball,” Green said. “After I caught it, my teammates did a great job blocking all the way down the field giving me a clear route to take.”
Finding themselves down 14-0 early in the second quarter, Mechanicsville was able to settle down and nearly connected on several big-play opportunities that could have shifted the complexion of the game just before halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, Atlee looked poised to take a commanding lead in the contest. The team did just that, going on a methodical 10-play drive that started deep within Mustang territory. The effort culminated with a 35-yard field goal by kicker Zach Tschantre, eating up much of the third-quarter clock in the process.
“That is a great feeling when you are able to control the ball like that,” said Atlee Coach Matt Gray. “I give a lot of credit to the linemen up front.”
Looking to mount a late comeback, the Mustang offense showed great resilience on what would prove to be their best drive of the contest. Callahan showcased both his arm and his legs while leading his team into scoring position to start the fourth quarter.
On the final play of the drive, Callahan once again called his own number and pounded his way into the end zone from 6 yards out giving Mechanicsville their first score of the night.
It would be too little too late for the Mustangs. Atlee would tack on another late score, and intercept Callahan for a third time to ice the game for the Raiders.
Earning their fourth victory of the season, Coach Gray spoke highly of his team’s effort.
“The guys continue to play hard, and the coaches are doing a great job,” he said. “Things are coming together at the right time for us. We will use the upcoming bye week to get healthy and finish the season strong.”
Mechanicsville, which falls to 1-4 on the season will look to rebound next week, as it prepares to host another cross-county opponent in the Hanover Hawks. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Dan Fritz can be reached at email@example.com.