By SAM McGAW | Photos by DEB SCALLY
Tahj Williams has a nose for the end zone.
The senior linebacker scored his third defensive touchdown of the year on a 97-yard fumble return to help the Ravenwood Raptors (5-5, 4-3) pull away from Antioch for a 41-12 win at home Friday.
“I saw the ball fall out of his hands and I just grabbed it,” said Williams, who started at inside linebacker after playing defensive end/outside linebacker all season. “Our coaches kept telling us to just keep our heads and not get down whenever something goes wrong.”
Antioch (3-7) was knocking on the door to cut Ravenwood’s lead to one score just over two minutes into the fourth quarter, but Williams’ return pushed his team to a 28-6 advantage.
In addition to the three touchdowns that have counted for him, Williams had two defensive scores called back due to penalties earlier in the season.
“You never know when he might score,” Ravenwood head coach Richie Wessman said. “He just has a knack for making plays. (Defensive coordinator Ryan Fowler) and the defensive staff do a great job of putting him in position to make plays. He just has pure instinct.”
Antioch was 3 of 13 on third-down conversions and 2 of 7 on fourth-down conversions.
Ravenwood closes the regular season in fifth place in Region 3-6A. It travels to take on Houston (4-5) in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs next Friday.
“We continue to get better,” Wessman stated. “Last week was our best week of practice. I expect us to continue to get better and make this postseason really exciting.”
Carter Nelson, who normally starts at inside linebacker for the Raptors, got the nod at running back. The senior made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He also lost two fumbles.
“We decided this week we might need me more for the playoffs, so I took a week off from defense,” Nelson said. “I split the carries this week, and hopefully it’ll increase during the playoffs. I just have to work on not fumbling.”
Nelson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Raptors a 7-0 lead a minute into the game. He extended the advantage to 14-6 with a 2-yard plunge midway through the second quarter.
“We put our two best linemen on one side and just ran it over and over again,” Nelson stated. “They couldn’t stop it.”
Ravenwood quarterback McCain Marrow connected with receiver Nate Freeman on a bubble screen for a 1-yard touchdown and 21-6 lead with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
Marrow later hit receiver John Rall over the middle for a 41-yard touchdown. Ravenwood cornerback Ramez Ibrahim’s interception return to the 1-yard line led to a D’Angelo Rice touchdown run with 19 seconds left.
Antioch’s touchdowns came on a 15-yard run by running back Rico Eubanks in the first quarter and a 75-yard interception return by Markel Clark midway through the final frame.
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.