The Laurens Raiders scored 21 points in the second half on their way to a 24-16 win over the Eastside Eagles at K.C. Hanna Stadium on Friday night.
Laurens picks up their first win of the season and sends the Eagles to their third loss in three games.
The Raiders defense played bend-but-don’t-break throughout the night. The Eagles offense played on a short field most of the night, with an average starting field position of their 41-yard line.
“All year long our defense has been producing,” said Raiders head coach Daryl Smith. “They did it tonight with their backs against the wall.”
Laurens turned it over three times and Eastside gave it away four times. The Raiders scored their second touchdown of the second half after TJ Garlington recovered an Eastside fumble.
Eastside racked up 377 yards of total offense but managed just two touchdowns and a safety. Quarterback Marshall Skoloff led the way with 61 yards rushing and 294 yards passing. He threw for one touchdown rushed for another.
Laurens answered with 297 yards of total offense, including 150 yards rushing and 147 yards passing.
“We finished some drives and got some big plays in the running game,” said Smith. “It’s good to see we were able to do some things that we’ve been emphasizing at practice.”
The first half was as entertaining as a trip to the dentist. Neither team could capitalize on opportunities. Eastside got on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown run by Skoloff and Laurens countered with a 21-yard field goal by Brian Diaz. The Eagles led 7-3 at halftime.
The second half was everything that the first half wasn’t. Laurens scored two touchdowns in the first four minutes of the third quarter. James Rawl connected with Jayden McGowen on a 26-yard touchdown pass. After the Garlington fumble recovery, Rawl found Cayson Elledge on a 31-yard scoring toss to put the Raider on top 17-7.
Rawl was 11 for 19 for 147 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Elledge finished with 3 catches for 75 yards and one score.
With 11:42 to play in the game, Skoloff hit a wide-open Tyler Brown for a 35-yard touchdown pass to narrow the margin to 17-14.
McGowen increased the Raiders lead, taking a direct snap 80 yards for a touchdown. Laurens led 24-14 with 6:45 to play.
“He’s dynamic when he touches the ball,” said Smith, talking about McGowen. “We’ve just got to get him the ball more.”
Defense made the difference for the Raiders down the stretch. An Eastside drive ended on a Jackson Martin interception inside the Raiders 10-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, a bad snap forced McGowan to take a safety and put the score at 24-16 with 4:46 to play.
The Eagles drove deep inside Laurens territory on their next two drives with an opportunity to tie the game. One drive ended when Zack Faulkner stripped a receiver and Martin recovered the fumble. The second drive ended and the game was sealed when Isaiah Pearson recovered an Eastside fumble at the Raiders 24-yard line with 1:21 to play.
Laurens will host Aiken next Friday night at 7:30pm.