On a wild night for special teams, it was a special teams play that finally tipped the scales in Madison County’s favor.
Kale Bodiford blocked a Cedar Shoals punt with 5:26 left, setting up Madison County’s game-winning touchdown as the Raiders stunned the Jaguars 29-28 Friday at home.
The huge victory moved the Raiders to 3-1 and into a three-way tie for second place in Region 8-AAAA.
“It was just open,” Bodiford said of the block. “We just played our butts off. It was teamwork. It was all teamwork.”
Bodiford’s crucial play came after the Raiders, trailing 28-22, forced Cedar Shoals to punt after a three-and-out.
Bodiford broke through the line for the block and Donavan Carey scooped the loose ball around the Jaguar 40 and raced down to the nine-yard line.
Raider quarterback Jacob Owens scored two plays later, tying the game at 28. Ian Webster’s PAT gave Madison County the one-point advantage with 4:35 left.
Madison County’s defense made sure there’d be no late drama as the Jaguars went backwards on their first three plays of their final offensive series.
Cedar Shoals opted to punt on fourth-and-14, but — on a night of special team mishaps for both teams — mishandled the attempt. Madison County took over at the Jaguar 17 and ran the clock out.
“It’s always big to beat a Clarke County school,” said coach Randell Owens, who improves his record to 5-4 against Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central. “So many of our kids know their kids. We compete so hard with them in so many sports.”
The coach noted the difficulty of playing on a wet field, which led to some of the special teams miscues.
“Unfortunately in the kicking game, we did give them some easy ones,” Owens said. “But fortunately, they gave us some back, so it all kind of evened out.”
With the victory, the Raiders have already eclipsed last year’s win total. Madison County defensive end Connor Boyett said his team was not to be denied in this one, remembering that last year’s loss to Cedar Shoals started a seven-game losing streak following a 2-1 start.
“We started off last year 2-1, and we did not want to have the same record as last year,” he said.
It was a roller-coaster evening for the Raiders, who got started with a 59-yard touchdown from Jamal Cooper on the third play from scrimmage and built a 22-7 halftime lead after touchdown runs of seven and 26 yards from Kendrick Butler. The Raiders gashed Cedar Shoals for 186 yards on the ground in the first half and 222 in the game.
Madison County watched that lead evaporate in the second half, however, as Cedar Shoals rallied for three touchdowns, two of which were setup by botched Raider punt attempts.
But the defense came up with big stop late when Madison County needed it, setting up Bodiford’s heroics.
“It was a great win,” Bodiford said. “It was crazy ... It was tough, but we did it.”