Ravens knock off previously-unbeaten Smyrna to keep top seed
Cane Ridge coach Eddie Woods rolled the dice early in the second quarter and his gamble paid off quite nicely Friday.
Shivan Abdullah’s 47-yard romp on fourth-and-7 near midfield gave the Ravens a lead they never relinquished in their 35-14 victory over region rival Smyrna Bulldogs at Robert L. Raikes Stadium.
“It was a great momentum booster,” Abdullah said. “My receivers ran downfield, great blocking, everything just worked out perfectly.”
Woods credits Abdullah’s maturity with his success.
“Last year he would have forced throws,” Woods said. “When he got a lane he took it. He’s sneaky fast now, he’s got a little speed to him. He’s powerful.”
Cane Ridge improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in Region 6-6A, maintaining first place in the region with the victory. Smyrna (5-1, 2-1) dropped into a tie for second with Overton as both teams have two region wins.
Smyrna and its much-heralded defense led by LB/RB Arion Carter and defensive lineman Jayden Marable came into the game fresh from a victory over Rutherford County neighbor Riverdale and the Bulldogs asserted themselves early, intercepting an Abdullah pass on the Ravens’ first possession of the game.
The drive came up empty as the Ravens were able to block the Bulldogs’ field goal attempt.
Following Abdullah’s touchdown run, Cane Ridge added to the lead at the 6:15 mark of the second quarter as Abdullah found Byron Davis with a step on the Smyrna defensive back. Davis was able to get a foot down in the back of the endzone for the 37-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead at the half.
Abdullah finished with 82 yards on six carries and was 9-of-14 for 186 yards and two scores passing.
The Ravens defense kept Carter at bay in the first half while harassing Bulldog quarterback Landon Miller all night, holding Miller to 9-of-22 passing for 60 yards.
“They’re good on defense. We knew they were going to be the best team we played at this point,” Smyrna coach Matt Williams said. “We struggled to block them at times up front and then we really struggled in protection and getting the ball out on time.”
The Ravens came out of the gate strong in the second half when Reggie Goodloe, returning to the lineup for the first time since his hamstring injury in Week 4, took a handoff from the left side and cut back against the grain, getting 59 of his 144 rushing yards to put the Ravens up 21-0 early in the third quarter.
“It was great to be back out there,” Goodloe said. “(The hamstring) got a little tight, but if feels great to be back.”
Woods added, “(Goodloe) sees holes that no one else sees. He’s also a threat in the pass game but we didn’t use him as much there tonight.”
Abdullah was very pleased to see his running back return.
“(Opposing) defenses are so scared of the run game because Reggie, oh my god, he’s electrifying. (Smyrna defenders) were playing in the box, so over-the-top was open a lot.”
Carter, hemmed in for most of the first half, got going on the following drive, an 80-yard grind that was capped with his 6-yard run with five minutes left in the third, cutting the score to 21-7. Carter finished with 120 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Cane Ridge regained the three-score advantage with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter when Mose Phillips III made a twisting, backpedaling catch of an Abdullah offering for a 35-yard touchdown.
Goodloe added his second touchdown from two yards out, set up by a long throw from Abdullah to Phillips.
Miller hit tight end Jonathan Messer from 16 yards out with less than two minutes left in the game for the 35-14 final tally.
Despite the victory, the Ravens feel like they still have something to prove.
“Everybody just keeps doubting us,” Goodloe said. “Every week, we’ve proven them wrong.”
Phillips added, “We’re kind of used to it now, we don’t even look into that. We just keep playing.”