Roane downs St. Marys, ends losing streak

Photo by Joe Albright Roane County’s Danny Bush surveys the St. Marys’ defense before a play in the second half. The Raiders won the game 28-17.

SPENCER — Roane County’s 13-game losing streak ended here late Friday night inside County Stadium in a contest featuring an hour-and-a-half rain delay, 28-17, over St. Marys.

Respected senior defensive end Michael Starkey’s sack of Blue Devil quarterback Brennan Boron with 16.7 seconds left started the party. Quarterback Danny Bush’s kneel down in victory formation the next play officially ended a string of losses dating back to a 2016 first-round playoff defeat to Bridgeport, 27-8.

“I don’t even know what to say right now,” said Starkey with tears in his eyes when asked to describe the win. “I am thrilled. I got the tackle to end the streak, but honestly it doesn’t matter who got the tackle. I would have been happy if a JV guy we threw in there got the tackle … It doesn’t matter. Now we can move on and win the next one and keep it going.”

There were doubts if this game would keep going Friday night past the 7:33 mark of the second quarter. After a clear opening period, the skies opened up at the beginning of the second half. Forks of lightning streaking across the sky eventually sent the contest into the delay with Roane leading 14-3.

Completion options were limited if the game was postponed. St. Marys’ open week was the first one of the season, plus the Blue Devils play again at home against Ritchie County at 7 p.m. Thursday. Resuming the game at 10 a.m. Saturday on the turf at Ripley High School was the best option. Ultimately though the schools decided to wait out the storm, and play resumed at 10 p.m. with nothing but a light mist during the remaining time.

Neither team managed any points before the buzzer sounded for halftime. St. Marys thought it scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak from Boron with 8.8 ticks remaining, but the call was nullified by a Blue Devils’ sideline warning. A tough outcome for a 12-play drive covering 63 yards in 1:36.

Jodi Mote’s squad didn’t have to wait long for another scoring opportunity. Anthony Wince returned the opening second-half kickoff 90 yards to paydirt. Joey Sanchez’ point after set the score at 14-10 with 11:47 left in the third.

Momentum appeared to swing to the Blue Devils after the score. A defensive stand on a fourth down of Roane’s ensuing drive gave the ball back to the offense with a chance to take the lead. However, disaster struck the first play of the drive. Boron saw the first-down snap squirt through his hands. It appeared he had secured the ball but the wet conditions proved otherwise. Roane County’s Austin Hawkins recovered the pigskin and ran 21 yards to the end zone for a 21-10 Raider lead with 9:03 left in the third.

Boron, who completed 9 of 17 passes for 135 yards and an interception, redeemed himself after the teams traded punts. He led the Blue Devils on a seven-play drive capped by his 6-yard scoring toss to Wince with 2:19 left in the period. The Raiders couldn’t get out of their way on the drive. An 8-yard punt put their opponents on the Roane 18, then defensive lineman fell for a hard snap count on a fourth-and-1 to extend the drive.

While penalties didn’t ultimately upend the Raiders’ win, they certainly could have sent the team to its 14th straight loss. Paul Burdette’s team was flagged 14 times for 110 yards.

“Very uncharacteristic of us,” said Burdette. “Maybe it was the heat of the moment maybe it was just trying so hard I don’t know. We will look at it on film and assess it and go from there. The guys played hard tonight and that was the biggest thing.”

St. Marys was a little cleaner with nine flags for 85 stripes.

Neither team seriously threatened to score again until Gabe Stump’s interception of a Boron pass put the Raiders in business at the St. Marys’ 31-yard line with 4:54 left in the fourth. Four plays later, Isaac Ryan recovered a Stump fumble off a completed pass and ran 25 yards for the final score of the contest with 2:45 remaining.

Three 15-yard penalties on the Blue Devils’ final drive left little time for a comeback even with a score. Something Mote wasn’t happy about in the locker room after the contest.

The setback was a second straight stinger for his team. It dropped a tough opening game to Scott, 21-14, one week ago.

“It is just tough,” said Mote. “They fought last week. They fought this week and we just didn’t get the win.”

Hawkins’ 35-yard pass to Cameron Bennett put Roane on top to stay with 4:42 left in the first period. Bush added the dagger after St. Marys had responded with a Sanchez’ 23-yard field goal. Roane’s QB ran through a huge hole on the right side of the field 52 yards to the scoring box 57 seconds into the second quarter.

Bush led all players in rushing with 155 yards on 23 carries. William Steele led the St. Marys rushing attack with 27 yards on nine totes.

“It sure feels good to feel a win again,” said Burdette, whose team improved to 1-2 and is off next week before a trip to Sutton to face Braxton County at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21.