All eyes may have been on Huntington running back Damien Jiggetts on Thursday, following last week’s 300-yard performance against Benton. However, Raiders head coach Rod Foppe’s attention was focused on his defensive unit that gave up 41 points in a loss to the Tigers.
Despite the short week of preparation, the Raiders’ defense came up big Thursday night. With Jiggetts effective, but limited, Huntington’s defense scored early and stopped Fair Park on two late possessions to secure a 20-12 victory at BTW.
“We’re trying to win district and last week was terrible,” Foppe said. “All we did was work on defense and it showed tonight against a physical team and a well-coached (team) — (Fair Park) beat us 44-6 last year.”
Two-way star Quindarius Allen stayed in position and stopped an Indians’ reverse on fourth-and-3 at the Raiders’ 15 with 1:36 left and Huntington then stopped four last-gasp efforts near midfield in the final 30 seconds of the game.
“Quindarius Allen is a kid who just plays hard,” Foppe said. “He’s a running back, but he plays nose guard. That’s all you need to say.”
Although hobbled by a leg injury, Jiggetts capped an 11-play, 64-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown — his second of the game — to extend the Raiders’ lead to eight points with 7:42 left.
Jiggetts finished with 154 yards on 29 carries.
Fair Park’s loss tempered an impressive performance by quarterback SeDerrick Smith. The freshman garnered 127 yards on the ground, scored once and chucked the ball 21 times Thursday.
“We have to get more weapons,” Fair Park head coach Mike Greene said. “We knew when some people went down, he was going to have to carry the load at a young age.”
Huntington didn’t possess the ball much in the first half, but still managed to build a healthy advantage early. Nine plays into Fair Park’s opening possession, Huntington’s Elijah Bridges picked off an overthrow by Smith and sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown to help the Raiders to an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Huntington stopped Fair Park on fourth down on the game’s second possession and took over on offense for the first time after the Indians already had run 17 plays.
The wait didn’t stop the Raiders, who marched 84 yards in 10 plays. Jiggetts completed the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:25 into the second quarter to put the Raiders up 14-0.
“We weren’t ready to play; I don’t know,” Greene said. “A huge game like that — they just weren’t mentally ready and I’ll take responsibility for that one.”
Fair Park got back in the game with an impressive effort from Smith. On third-and-12, Smith picked up a loose ball off an errant snap, broke several tackles and dragged a Raiders defender into the end zone 69 yards later to get the Indians on the board.
Jiggetts had 100 yards on 12 carries in the first half.
“If we can play defense, and we can score the football, we can pose problems for some people,” Foppe said.
Fair Park went 82 yards in 11 plays to pull within 14-12 on 3-yard touchdown run from Antwaun Wilson with 20 seconds left in third quarter, but couldn’t find the end zone again.
Connect with Roy Lang III on Twitter at @RoyLangIII.