MACON – The Upson Lee Knights hit the road for first time this year on Friday night, traveling to Macon to take on the Northeast-Macon Raiders in a non-region contest. The Raiders kicked off to the Knights around 7:30 p.m. and less than three minutes later the Upson Lee Knights held a 14-0 lead.
On the first play of the game, Upson Lee running back Quay Reviere ran up the gut of the Raiders’ defense, and was seemingly stopped for a short gain. However, Reviere never went to the ground and the referee never blew the whistle. With the Raiders and many Knights thinking the play was over due to Reviere forward progress being stopped, Reviere kept running, going 65 yards for a touchdown. With Rich Stewart’s PAT, Upson Lee led 7-0. On the ensuing kickoff, Upson Lee’s Chase Boyt recovered a pooch kick that was perfectly executed by Stewart. Two plays later Reveire scored once again from 12 yards out, and after Stewart’s second PAT kick, just 36 seconds into the game, the Knights held a 14-0 lead.
“We got up on them pretty quickly,” said UL Head Coach Tommy Parks. “Honestly I thought we started out a little sluggish. Our body language was not good, and we seemed like we were not excited to be out there, but as the game went on, we started to get more energy. We just can’t afford to start slow like that against some of the better teams we will face. I think scoring those two quick touchdowns helped us out a little.”
With the 14-0 lead, the Knights would force yet another turnover. Senior Erik Foster picked off a Raider pass in the flats, setting up Reviere’s third rushing touchdown of the game, this time from six yards out. Rich Stewart’s PAT was good, and with just 14 seconds left in the first quarter, Upson Lee held a 21-0 lead.
Reviere would score his fourth touchdown of the game in the second quarter on a 14-yard scamper, breaking tackles and reaching for the corner of the end zone. After another Stewart PAT, Upson Lee led 28-0 with 8:55 left in the first half. That’s just about all of the action Reviere would see in the game, finishing with 159 yards rushing on just eight carries, and scoring four touchdowns. Reviere’s four touchdowns tied an Upson Lee school record, and he did all of that in just one half of the game.
Upson Lee junior Markevious Robinson was one of the beneficiaries of Reviere’s record setting night. Robinson was able to get more carries in the game, finishing with 15 touches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Robinson scored the Knights’ fifth touchdown of the first half on a one yard run with 5:52 left before halftime. Stewart’s point after attempt sailed wide of the goal posts, but Upson Lee still held a 34-0 lead as the two teams headed into the locker room at the half.
“Markevious is going to be a huge contributing factor for us offensively,” said Parks. “More and more teams are going to a running back by committee approach, and we are going to need Markevious to take some of the burden off of Reviere this season. We have to play 10 games in a row without a bye week, and if Reviere has to carry the ball 30 times a game for 10 straight weeks, well that’s too much to ask of anyone.”
With the 35-0 lead, the Knights came out of the locker room for the third quarter, and it was the Knights defense which dominated the second half of the game. The Knights held the Raiders to just 47 yards rushing and 51 yards passing, their second game in a row in which they held their opponent to under 100 yards of total offense.
“I can’t say enough about how well coach (Cedric) Stegall has those defensive guys playing,” said Parks. “When you can limit the yards and force turnovers, it makes our job on offense much easier.”
Upson Lee saw many of their second and third string players on the field for much of the third and fourth quarters, and their defense kept the Raiders in check. The Knights would score their sixth and final touchdown of the game in the third quarter. This time it was back-up quarterback Mikey Smith, scoring from one yard out. With 7:21 left in the third quarter the Knights held a 41-0 lead.
It was a quiet night for Upson Lee QB Kalen Puckett in the passing game, completing just one pass on five attempts for 20 yards. The Knights never needed to go to the air, rushing for 256 yards in the contest. Upson Lee’s offensive line seemingly dominated the line of scrimmage for the entire four quarters.
“Our offensive line was one of the biggest concerns for us coming into the season,” said Parks. “Those guys have been getting better every day, but they still have a long way to go. Only Aaron Warren and Logan Gulley return as starters, and our three new starters, Clark Daniel, Chase Duncan, and Jalik Smith are starting to find their way. They just have to continue to work hard and get better each day.”
Reviere’s 159 yards rushing led the Knights offensive attack, while Markevious Robinson carried the ball 15 times for 61 yards a score.
Next week Upson Lee will have to hit the road once again, but this time they will be traveling west, as they make their way to Kinnett Stadium to face the Northside-Columbus Patriots. On Thursday the Patriots traveled to Albany to face the Westover Patriots, but with Northside leading 10-0 in the second quarter, the game was called due to lightning.
Last season Upson Lee escaped Matthews Field with a 21-13 victory over the Patriots.
Wes McCard can be contacted at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @WesMc21.