After a scathing 37-13 regular season setback by Jackson Academy's Raiders, the Cougars from Hillcrest Christian School came into Friday night's MPSA Division I-AAA semifinal playoff game with a better game plan.

The plan worked in everything except the final score, as the Raiders, though outgained, remained undefeated in the 2005 season as they eased by the visiting Cougars 21-10.

The Raiders move on to a Dec. 2 showdown with Jackson Prep for the state title. It will be the fifth consecutive year that Jackson Academy and Jackson Prep will have met in the finals. Friday night's win was the Raiders’ 18th over Hillcrest without loss.

Though Hillcrest held the ball for almost 28 of the game’s 48 minutes and outgained the Raiders 292 to 197 yards, the Raiders took advantage of all of their scoring opportunities to come away with the win.

Hillcrest broke the scoring ice late in the first quarter. After do-everything back Justin Reed raced around right end for 62 yards before being dragged down at the JA 8-yard line, the Hillcrest drive stalled, and the Cougars were forced to accept the three points from Brandon Alford’s foot from 30 yards out.

Jackson Academy later mounted a drive of 80 yards culminating with Joe Greenlee’s 8-yard toss to sophomore tight end Bobby Peterson for the score. Lewis Rogers’ kick made it 7-3 Raiders.

Two Hillcrest penalties aided the Raiders’ drive and produced the only two Jackson Academy first downs of the first half. As Hillcrest coach Doug Hoehn commented, \'89\'db\'cfPenalties killed us\'89\'db\uc0\u157 .

“Penalties killed us,” Hillcrest coach Doug Hoehn commented.

The members of the officiating crew, assigned by the MPSA, were all from the Shreveport area.

After relying on running back Reed’s running for most of the first half, Cougar quarterback Loviett Dixon's only pass of the half was picked off by Landon Thompson at midfield. Thompson raced for the touchdown, and sophomore Taylor Sartin then kicked the point after. The teams went into the intermission with Jackson Academy holding a 14-3 lead.

The teams opened the third quarter with a couple of punt exchanges before Jackson Academy put together an 80-yard drive, finishing it off with fullback Benji Maher’s 1-yard plunge. This time, Rogers added the point, making the score 21-3 and leading the 1,300 folks on hand to think a repeat of the first game was about to happen.

Hillcrest had other plans. Quarterback Dixon hit passes of 42 yards to Kalendas Lewis and 28 yards to Blake Alford, putting the ball at the Raiders 8. Reed took it in from the 7, and Alford’s PAT closed the gap to 21-10.

The Cougars made a last-ditch drive, overcoming a pair of penalties and making two of three fourth-down attempts before running out of gas at the Raiders 18.

Runs by Nathan Jew and Maher allowed the Raiders to run out the clock.

“I got some carries, and I just lowered my head and tried to run hard,” Maher said. “We want to get another win (against Jackson Prep). They’ve got a real good ball club, and it will be a really good game.”

Reed led all ground gainers with 169 yards and anchored the Cougars defense. Jew and Maher gained the bulk of the Raider’s 131 yards on the ground. Bubba Horne, Pen Pickering, Maher, Joseph Gex and safety Jake Black led the way in keeping the Cougars offense bottled up for most of the night.

\'ca Raiders coach Joey Hawkins wasn’t surprised that Hillcrest did not go to the pass more in the first half.\

“We knew this game was going to be close,” he said. “Hillcrest was well prepared. I’m proud of this bunch, they got it done in the clutch.”

About the upcoming game with Prep, Hawkins said: “They’ve got a great football team. We’ve got to get ready for them. We’re just thankful, honored and privileged to be going back (to the championship game)."