The Midway Raiders opened up home play on Friday night when they hosted the Princeton Bulldogs out of Johnston County. In a high-scoring affair that saw limited defense, the Princeton offense out-shot the Raiders to come out on top with a 50-36 victory.
Midway won the opening toss and elected to receive the ball on the opening possession. After an unsurprising onside kick attempt from the Bulldogs, it was a quick three-and-out for the Raiders on the shortened field. With a big loss on the first play from scrimmage hindering Midway’s offense, the Raiders were forced to punt away at midfield.
After the punt, the Bulldogs set up shop on their own 24-yard line and settled in for a long drive. Though an untimely fumble for a turnover cut the drive short in Raiders territory, Princeton was already displaying a hard-nosed rushing attack.
After the turnover, Midway took back over on their own 22-yard line. They capitalized on the Bulldogs mistake when quarterback Carson Calcutt connected with Dante Blue on a short pass and run that went for the 67-yard touchdown with 3:28 left on the clock in the first quarter. The Bulldogs blocked the PAT but Midway now led 6-0.
Princeton wasn’t going to be outdone.
After starting from their own 22-yard line on the ensuing possession, it look less than a minute for the Bulldogs John Lockamy to reel off a huge 78-yard run for the score to tie things up. Princeton’s kick for the PAT sailed wide-left, leaving the game tied at 6-6.
With action carrying over to the second quarter, Midway’s offense answered right back.
After having moved the ball deep into Princeton territory, the Raiders were facing fourth and goal. Calcutt didn’t bat an eye as he found Carsse Lucas in the back of the end zone for another passing touchdown to put Midway back out in front. The PAT was successful this time and Midway led 13-6 with 10:10 still left in the first half.
Princeton, as would be the case all night long, answered again. The Bulldogs worked their way downfield and were in the end zone again after Nathan Ramby ran it in from just 1-yard out. This time, they opted for the go-ahead two-point conversion try rather than a PAT. The attempt was successful and Princeton now emerged ahead, 14-13.
There weren’t many offensive penalties in the game but an untimely one for Midway killed what looked to be another promising drive for the Raiders. After a huge run that converted a first down and set Midway up well inside Princeton territory, the only offensive holding call of the half brought everything back and instead yielded yet another Midway punt.
Princeton took advantage of Midway’s misfortune with 1:11 left in the half as the Bulldogs found paydirt once again to extend their lead. Another successful 2-point conversion put the Bulldogs ahead 22-13 with the first half winding down.
With time to work with still on the clock, the Raiders settled in in hopes of getting back within striking distance before the halftime break.
Their efforts paid off when, with just 5.5 seconds left in the half, Calcutt connected with Lucas again on an 18-yard touchdown pass. The Raiders opted for and converted a 2-point try of their own to pull within 22-21 at the half.
Out of the break, the Bulldogs took the opening kick off and went right to work. On a night where Midway’s offense put up big numbers, their defense simply couldn’t get stops when needed.
With 7:47 on the clock in the third quarter, the Princeton was in the end zone for their fourth straight possession. The two-point conversion failed this time as the score was now 28-21 in favor of the visitors.
On the ensuing possession, Midway had crossed into Princeton territory when the Raiders suffered their first turnover of the game by way of a fumble. With 1:59 on the scoreboard, Princeton scored again, connected the two point try, and now claimed their largest lead of the game at 36-21.
Despite this, the Raiders offense stood tall. On a drive that took just over a minute, Calcutt and Lucas connected for a third time on another TD pass play with just 25.3 left in the quarter. Midway converted the PAT and was back to within 36-28 heading into fourth quarter.
Again, the action was back on the shoulders of the Midway defensive unit, but Princteon’s running game was just not going to be stopped.
They extended their lead once more with 8:32 left on the clock to lead 44-28.
Midway’s offense answered the call again with Calcutt calling his own number on a 24-yard touchdown run with 6:56 left in the game. After 2-point try, Midway trailed 44-36.
Again, Princeton’s rushing attack overpowered the Raiders defense for the final score of the game. With 1:36 left, the Bulldogs extended their lead to the final margin of 50-36.
The Raiders attempted one final push to get back into the game but the Bulldogs defense came up with an interception to slam the door shut.
After the game, Raiders head coach Cory Barnes was positive in the post game huddle. He told his team that he was proud of the way they fought hard, especially his offense. Rather than blame his defense for the loss, he told his team that overall they have to improve on playing mistake-free ball.
For Midway, Calcutt was sensational, completing 11 of 16 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Blue had four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown while Lucas had three catches for 58 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite Barnes saying in the postgame that his running attack had been stymied, the Raiders still put up 116 rushing yards between three different rushers.
With the loss, Midway falls to 1-1 on the season. They are slated to be back in action Friday when they host West Bladen, where a big crowd is expected for the renaming of Midway’s football stadium in honor of legendary head coach Tommy Sloan.