By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Additional reporting by Thomas Bender
The East Carter Raiders were victorious in their first match of the Class 3A 2023 state football finals, at home against Lloyd Memorial last Friday. The Raiders held the visiting Juggernauts scoreless until the final quarter of the game, when QB Kaleb Evans connected on a pass to Nishawn Golsby to put the Lloyd Memorial on the boards. But it was too little too late, with East Carter taking home the W and a final score of 20 – 7.
The Raiders, who earned a bye in the first round, added lucky number seven to their winning streak, largely on the performance of sophomore Landon Yoak (RB,LB) who scored two of the Raiders three touchdowns of the night and rushed for 267 yards on 34 attempts. East’s other touchdown came courtesy of senior Jared Potter (TE,DB) who connected on a 12 yard pass from QB Quentin Johnson to add to the score. Ryan Carter connected on two of his three kick attempts to round out the score.
While Yoak had the longest legs of the night, Bryer Holbrook, with five rush attempts, Quention Johnson, with three attempts, Carter, with one, and Ryland Pfau, with three rushing attempts, added to the numbers, bringing East Carter’s total yards rushed to 282.
In the passing game Gabe Roberts caught one pass, for 33 yards, and Michael Hall caught two for a gain of 14 yards, bringing the total yards gained on passes to 59 with Potter’s 12 yard TD reception.
East’s defense didn’t allow the Juggernauts to run too much. The Lloyd Memorial team only rushed for 30 yards, gaining most of their yardage – 238 yards – on a strong passing game that still wasn’t enough to break through the East Carter defensive wall.
The Raiders defensive line had 47 total tackles, with 17 solo tackles and 30 assists.
Potter and Jaxon Barker led the team in tackles with eight each, Potter with two solo and six assists, and Barker split evenly at four and four. Allen Cooper had seven total, with three solo and four assists. Gabriel Bernardo had one solo and five assists, Ashton Lewis had one and four, Michael Hall two and two, Pfau two solo tackles and one assist, Izack Messer one and two, Bryer Holbrook one each, and Yoak with one assist. Cooper and Messer each had one tackle for loss.
Potter also had one interception, returning 23 yards, and Cody Salmons had one fumble recovery for the East Carter team.
The Raiders square off against the Bell County Cats this Friday, at Bell County. If they win, they’ll face off against the winner of the Rockcastle County – Lexington Catholic match on the same evening for the fourth round semifinal match.
No matter how the season shakes out for the Raiders, Yoak is a strong contender for the sophomore of the year in Sports Illustrated’s high school poll for Kentucky. At press time Yoak was leading in that poll with more than 60% of the vote.
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