Home Local Sports ‘Big plays’ hinder Raiders in fourth straight loss

‘Big plays’ hinder Raiders in fourth straight loss

Head coach Bryan Till (center) meets with the defense during a timeout in the second half of Friday's loss. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

CHARLOTTE — An early-season slide continued for the Richmond Senior High School football team on Friday.

The Raiders, who were on the road to conclude their four-game non-conference schedule, suffered their fourth straight loss at Myers Park High School.

In a matchup muddled by explosive plays by the home team, Richmond lost to the Mustangs by a final score of 47-14.

The Raiders avoided the shutout with a pair of scores late in the fourth quarter. 

The loss also marked Richmond’s worst start to a season in program history, which started in 1972. The Raiders started 0-3 in 2022, which was the previous slowest start to a campaign.

“Tonight was obviously pretty frustrating,” head coach Bryan Till said. “We felt like coming into this game we were a lot better than the final score showed. They made some big plays on big downs. We converted on the fake punt and didn’t score, but then we allowed them to score on the first play.

“On the first drive, there were several third-and-longs and a fourth down where we let them keep going,” he added. “If we’re going to turn things around, which we will, we’ve got to make those plays in those moments. If we do that, it’s a whole different ball game.”

Things went south early for the Raiders, who couldn’t stop the Mustangs’ offense and never recovered.

Myers Park scored on all four of its first-half possessions, and first six overall, to take a 28-0 lead into the break. Quarterback Wendell Thompson threw two of his three passing scores in the first two quarters, while the Mustangs added two rushing scores. 

The opening kickoff was returned near midfield and the Mustangs used the good field position to score 11 plays later. On first-and-goal from the four-yard line, Thompson hit wide receiver Brody Keefe to open the scoring. 

The point-after attempt was wide left, as Myers Park took a 6-0 lead with 8:31 left in the first quarter. 

Richmond managed to move the ball on several of its possessions, including a conversion on fourth down courtesy of a fake punt on its first series. Junior Joe Parsons took the direct snap from fellow junior Gray Maultsby for a 26-yard gain. 

But the drive stalled out in the red zone with Richmond unable to convert on fourth-and-three at the Mustangs’ 18-yard line. 

Just one play later, running back Josh Falzarano (4 rushes, 114 yards) broke loose up the middle for an 87-yard rushing score. Following the PAT, Myers Park led 13-0. 

Richmond ran five plays on its second drive but was forced to punt. A fumble on the attempt was recovered by the Mustangs at the Richmond 18-yard line. 

As the first quarter rolled into the second, Myers Park capitalized on the special teams miscue. Thompson (12-for-16, 142 yards, 3 TDs) connected with Keefe (2 catches, 23 yards) again for a 19-yard touchdown after a false start.

RJ Alexander converted the two-point play to extend the lead to 21-0 less than a minute into the second. 

Another strong drive saw the Raiders cross midfield again and get into the red zone. Helping them get there was a 45-yard completion by sophomore quarterback Domonic Tillman. 

Hitting senior wide receiver Javian Drake in stride down the right sideline, the catch moved the sticks to the Myers Park 35-yard line. 

But three plays later, the Raiders’ ground attack coughed up the ball, which was recovered by the Mustangs at their own 19-yard line. 

Making quick use of the clock, Myers Park drove the field and scored once more before the break. 


Alexander (10 carries, 104 yards) moved to his left for a 5-yard rushing touchdown. Another successful PAT with 1:02 left put the Mustangs ahead 28-0. 

“The only play I think they made that we shouldn’t have been able to do something about was the vertical one-on-one and the kid makes a great play,” Till said. “The rest of them I felt like defensively we could have made plays.

“And we have to stop turning the ball over. Being able to protect the football and be clean on offense and special teams is going to be huge moving forward.”

Richmond took the opening kick of the second half but punted on a three-and-out. A 19-yard return, coupled with a personal foul penalty, made it first down for the Mustangs at the Raiders’ 30-yard line.

It took just one snap for Alexander to score his second and final rushing score, this one a 30-yard burst. Junior Chris Covington blocked the PAT to keep the deficit 34-0.

Another three-and-out by Richmond was followed by Thompson’s third passing score. Scrambling away from a swarm of defenders, he linked up with Miles Baucom for a 10-yard touchdown. 

Going for two points, Myers Park was stopped in the backfield by junior Tate Simpson, preventing the running clock from starting.

Two possessions later, the Raiders capped a 15-play, 95-yard march to get on the board. Junior tailback Jordan Bostick, Richmond’s leading rusher with 70 yards on 10 touches, got the sticks moving with 29 yards on three rushes.

Tillman (5-of-9, 87 yards) made completions to senior wide receivers Jada Zimmerman and Javian Drake. Senior running back Jaliel Green (22 carries, 68 yards) and junior Joseph Patterson (4 rushes, 15 yards) helped move the ball.

On fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Green took a direct snap and found a hole in the line for Richmond’s first touchdown. Following the PAT from junior Billy West, Richmond trailed 40-7 with 6:22 to go.

Not wasting any time, the Mustangs padded their lead two plays into the next series. Backup quarterback Brock Jenkins threw a 33-yard touchdown to Baucom (4 catches, 69 yards).

Richmond’s largest margin of defeat in its 52-year history was, and still is, 38 points thanks to the game’s final score.

With two seconds remaining, sophomore quarterback Evan Hodges threw a screen pass to his right to Bostick. The 11-yard passing touchdown was the final offensive play of the game.

Myers Park (1-3) racked up 430 yards of total offense (255 rushing, 175 passing) to Richmond’s 250 yards (152 rushing, 98 passing).

The Mustangs converted all three of their fourth-down attempts, while the Raiders were 2-for-3.

Richmond (0-4) will try to end its historic losing streak to start the season when it starts Sandhills Athletic Conference play next week.

The Raiders’ 2023 homecoming game will be played at Raider Stadium against Southern Lee High School (3-1). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“We have to make sure we’re focused with all of the extra things that go on with homecoming,” Till closed.

The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Friday’s game at Myers Park on Saturday.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.