DAWSON -- Southland's strong running game and 13 first downs ended up being too much for Terrell Academy as the Raiders won a non-region game, 20-12, on Friday night behind senior running back Kevin Greene, who finished with 11 carries for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
"We knew that game was going to be (about) ball control," Southland head coach Tim Goodin said. "We just had to keep it away from them. We got a little beat up on defense and they have a big line. (Our) strength is running (the ball) 3 or 4 yards (each play) and holding on to (possession)."
But that was only part of the story.
A few of the times the Raiders held on to possession were quite controversial as inadvertent whistles by the referees in the fourth quarter led to two TAE fumble recoveries being waived off -- the first of which was returned 40 yards for a score.
"We got lucky with a (couple) inadvertent whistles," Goodin said. "The first one, the whistle blew, the ball was on the ground and our kids stopped. They picked it up and ran it in, but our guys heard the whistle and stopped (playing).
"The second one was their ball -- it should have been (anyway) -- but the guy blew the whistle, so that was just bad luck for them."
Referees also had wrong downs on a few plays, multiple reversed flag decisions and even mistakenly sent a TAE player off the field with a minute left in the game when the Eagles had the allowable 11 players on it.
"The officiating was awful. I know I'm going to get in trouble with the GISA, but it was embarrassing," Terrell Academy head coach Bill Murdock said. "We recovered two fumbles, the officials admitted we recovered both of them and said they were inadvertent whistles."
Murdock said the same thing happened to him and his team in the Brookwood game at the start of the season, but all that matters is how hard his players are trying on the field.
"Our kids played hard. Southland's got a big, good, physical team," Murdock said. "Tim's a good coach and a real good friend of mine, so I was very pleased (with our effort against his guys)."
The Eagles did look good after Southland scored on its first drive -- a 4-yard run by QB Jake Hood -- as they went up 12-7 with five minutes to go in the half on a 3-yard run by Todd Beaver and a on a 23-yard pass from Zach Hurst to Jonathan Farr. They missed both PATs.
Greene gave the Raiders the lead again, 13-12, with 40 seconds left in the half on a 4-yard run to his right.
"(Jake) had a good first half and some good runs," said Goodin, whose team finished with 333 yards on the ground and only attempted two passes. "We've been laying it on the ground (lately)."
Green picked up in the second half right where he left off, escaping multiple defenders for a 60-yard run with 4:54 left in the third to complete the scoring in a 98-yard drive for Southland (4-4).
"(Downfield blocking) is big for us on offense," said Greene who had 93 rushing yards in the first half. "Once we break (through the offensive line), we have to have more blockers running downfield, with the corners trying to head us off."
The controversy then started in the fourth quarter as the refs almost spent as much time explaining their calls to each coach as there was action on the field.
"When you run an option offense, it's hard to see the ball sometimes (because) they're active more often," said Goodin, whose team plays Sherwood next week. "To be honest with you, (the Eagles) were just unlucky."
One bright spot for TAE (3-3-1) was the tandem of Brian Ambrose and Levi Griffin, who rushed for a combined 120 yards. Murdock said that's what his team will focus on this week as they prepare for Windsor.
"We just are going to continue doing the same thing (next week)," Murdock said, before adding, with a chuckle. "We just have to hope we get a different crew."