A new look Murray County offense rolled up more than 450 yards of total offense on Friday in a 47-20 demolition of Southeast Whitfield.
It was the season opener for both teams and for the second year in a row the Indians overwhelmed the Raiders in the second half.
Murray took a shaky 19-12 lead to the locker room at halftime, but stunned the Raiders with three straight touchdowns in the third quarter.
“It’s good to get a win, particularly in front of a big home crowd,” said Coach Chad Brewer. “In a lot of way this was like our first scrimmage, and it looked like it at times, but we did a lot of good things, too.”
“The Southeast kids played hard,” Brewer added. “They have a big offensive and defensive line and they knocked us around some.”
Running back Davis Redwine had a huge night. The senior exploded for an 82-yard on the Indians’ first offensive play from scrimmage. .
Redwine would carry the ball 12 more times and total 226 yards rushing.
“Davis is an awesome kid to be around,” Brewer said. “He plays and practices at one speed -- wide open all the time. It’s good to see him have this kind of success.
Another offensive standout was quarterback Kaleb Jones, who threw a career-best three scoring passes. Jones and veteran wide receiver Brannon Nuckolls showed good chemistry, hooking up five times for 91 yards and two TDs.
Carson Voiles also got a TD catch when Brewer opted to go for the score on fourth and goal from the 4.
The Indians offensive line did its job much of the night, particularly in pass protection. The OL gave Jones time to find his receivers and opened some holes for the hard-running Redwine.
Murray built a 13-0 lead on Redwine’s 82-yard dash and the Jones to Voiles four-yarder.
But Southeast stormed back, scoring touchdowns on a 75-yard kick return and a 1-yard TD plunge that capped a nine-play drive.
Jones to Nuckolls for the 60- yard score got the car back on the road for Murray just before halftime.
In the third quarter, the Indians began to dominate.
They opened the half by moving 54 yards in six plays. Jones ripped off a key 27-yard run on third down and three players later hit Nuckolls on a slant from 17 yards out for the TD.
The offense came right back on the field when linebacker Aaron Flood recovered a fumble at the SE 26.
Jones ran for 11 before Redwine blasted in from 15 yards out.
Excellent coverage by defensive back Drew Carter drew an offensive pass interference call. That wrecked the next Raider possession.
Murray got the ball back and moved 67 yards on six plays.
The big strike was a 29-yard pass from Jones to tight end Lincoln Puryear, who rambled to the Raider 7. Southeast scored on a one-yard run by Jones.
Southeast added a scoring drive in the final quarter. Murray answered after a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Eddie Love.
Junior quarterback Justice Knotts, in for Jones, tore through the tired Raider defense 22 yards and the game’s final score.
Murray County’s Nuckolls was happy to see his team throwing the football more than in the past but winning the game was his prime concern,
“I love the passing game, but any way we can win is the best route to go,” he said.
Inside linebackers Carson Voiles and Aaron Flood were very active. Voiles had 12 tackles, including two for loss. Flood, a sophomore starting for the first time at the varsity level, tallied nine tackles.
Senior defensive ends Lincoln Puryear (seven tackles, two for loss) and Drew Johnson (four tackles, one for loss) helped the Indians
“We kept the ball in front of us,” said Brewer. “Except for that kick return for a touchdown, we kept them in front of us and made plays. We missed a few tackles.”
The good -- Redwine was dynamic ... The Indians eliminated turnovers, a huge factor for any good football team ... Quarterback Jones (45 yards rushing) was effective as a passer, a runner and as the architect of the team’s option ground game ... The offensive and defensive lines held up against the big Raider lines .. The defense denied Southeast big plays.
The bad -- Kaleb Jones missed some open receivers over the middle ... Special teams coverage gave up two long returns, including a 75 yard TD on a kickoff ... Pass rushers didn’t get much pressure on the Raider quarterback (0 sacks) ... Two PAT kicks failed.
Play of the Game -- Southeast captured the momentum in the second quarter by scoring two touchdowns and cutting the Indian lead to 13-12. That’s when Jones dropped a perfect deep ball into the hands of a sprinting Nuckolls who went 60 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders never recovered.
What’s next -- The Indians plan next against Gilmer County on Sept. 18.