ROCKINGHAM — It only took the effort of their first three drives for the Richmond Raiders to sink Jack Britt High School during the first round of the 4A East postseason on Friday.
Sticking to their script of using a fast start to score early and often, the No. 1 Raiders kept up the pressure to sail past the No. 32 Buccaneers 52-14.
Richmond scored on each of its first five offensive drives and used six total positive turnovers to earn its largest margin of victory, 38 points, in its 17-game all-time series against the Buccaneers (4-6).
Jumping out to a 45-7 halftime lead, a touchdown with 3:49 left in the third quarter initiated a running clock. Including the regular and postseason, it was Richmond’s fourth mercy-rule win this season.
The Raiders’ defense collected three interceptions and scooped up three fumble recoveries in the win, seeing four of those turnovers lead to points on the ensuing offensive drive.
Richmond took the opening kickoff and drove the ball 82 yards in 11 plays to jump out to a 7-0 lead.
Senior quarterback Kellan Hood, who accounted for five total touchdowns for the second game in a row, found senior wide receivers Javares Stanback (33-yard catch) and Cason Douglas (18-yard catch, 9-yard catch) to move the ball into the red zone.
Senior running back Nasir Crumpton capped the opening series with a 5-yard rush up the middle, which was followed by the first of seven straight successful point-after attempts by senior kicker Alex Medina.
Four plays into the Buccaneers’ first drive, senior defensive end J.D. Lampley applied pressure on sophomore quarterback Jackson Powell, forcing an errant throw. There to pick it off was sophomore linebacker Marquan Martin.
Marquan Martin (44) returns his interception in the first quarter. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)
Taking over at the Jack Britt 24-yard line, Hood connected with Douglas for the first of his four touchdown passes in the game four plays later on 4th-and-9. Douglas ran a crossing route over the middle, catching the ball at the 13-yard line before racing into the end zone.
Medina’s PAT was good and Richmond led 14-0 with 2:47 left in the opening quarter.
Another blunder by the Buccaneers on the ensuing kickoff resulted in another short field for the Richmond offense.
Kick returner Darren Davis fumbled the kickoff and senior linebacker Mikey Baldwin grabbed the loose ball, the first of his game-high two fumble recoveries, at the Jack Britt 20-yard line.
Just 19 seconds after taking a two-possession lead, Hood scrambled 20 yards to the house for his lone rushing score of the game, putting Richmond ahead 21-0.
Jack Britt’s only touchdown of the first half came on its next play from scrimmage, a 76-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Jemell Vereen. He was the game’s leading rusher with 172 yards on 16 carries and two scores.
Kicker Luca Duarte hit the PAT and Jack Britt cut its deficit to 21-7 with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter.
Answering on its next drive, the Richmond offense opened the second quarter with a 7-play, 75-yard march that ended in another passing touchdown for Hood.
A 17-yard gain through the air to junior running back Taye Spencer helped set up a 43-yard catch and run score to senior wide receiver Chris Ellerbe. Catching the ball at the 35-yard line, Ellerbe shouldered off two defenders before finding open space for the score.
Medina rang true again and Richmond opened its lead to 28-7 with 11:50 remaining in the first half.
Chris Ellerbe (3) shakes off two defenders during his catch-and-run for a touchdown. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)
Lampley helped keep the defense’s time on the field short on the Buccaneers’ next drive, falling on top of a Powell fumble on Jack Britt’s fourth play. Giving Richmond the ball at the Jack Britt 31-yard line, it was Lampely’s third recovery of the season.
Spencer joined the scoring parade with a 13-yard burst through the line with 7:47 remaining in the half. He carried the ball on four straight plays before finding the end zone.
Jack Britt’s offensive woes continued on its next drive when Powell threw his second interception. There to collect the ball and return it back to the Richmond 45-yard line was senior linebacker Gabe Altman, his second pick of the campaign.
Taye Spencer (21) crosses into the end zone for his rushing touchdown against Jack Britt. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)
Richmond wouldn’t score again until two drives later, which was set up by a tackle-for-loss on third down, forcing a Duarte punt.
With the clock winding inside two minutes, Hood broke loose for a 41-yard gain on the ground to get down to the 12-yard line. Two plays later, Hood connected with his third different wideout for a score, senior Trey Thomas, from 10 yards out.
That score, coupled with a Medina PAT, put the Raiders up 42-7 with 1:10 to go.
Powell coughed the ball up on Jack Britt’s final possession of the first half, which was picked up by Baldwin. Running toward the end zone, Baldwin was dragged across the goal line, but a penalty on the return placed the ball at the Buccaneers’ 20-yard line.
Medina stepped in and hit a 30-yard field goal as time expired to give Richmond a 38-point halftime lead.
On their second offensive drive of the second half, the Raiders found the end zone on their longest play of the game. A sack by Lampley on third down forced a 4th-and-16 from midfield, resulting in another punt.
J.D. Lampley (55) wraps up Jackson Powell for a quarterback sack in the second half. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)
Facing a long field, Hood laced a pass to Douglas in the left flat on first down, seeing the wide receiver turn on the jets and go 76 yards for the score. The catch-and-run was Douglas’ second score of the game and team-leading fifth of the season.
Vereen would score the game’s final touchdown, a 1-yard rush, with 8:19 to go in the fourth quarter.
In the closing minute of the game, sophomore defensive back Rashaad Gilbert caught an interception to secure the win for the Raiders.
The Raiders collected 392 yards of total offense (275 passing, 117 rushing), and Jack Britt had 218 yards of total offense (185 rushing, 33 passing).
Hood’s effort of 13-of-19 passing for 275 yards and 4 passing touchdowns were both career-highs. He also connected with five different receivers, including Douglas, who had two career-highs — 142 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Ellerbe (48 yards), Spencer (35 yards) and Stanback (40 yards) each caught two passes. Hood’s 68 yards on 8 carries were a team-high and Spencer added 38 yards on 10 rushes.
The defense’s six turnovers matched a season-high, which also happened against Southern Lee High School.
Kellan Hood (7) registered five total touchdowns in the win over Jack Britt. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)
Richmond (10-1) will look to take another step closer to the 4A state championship when it hosts No. 16 Leesville Road (8-2) next Friday.
In the opening round, Leesville Road defeated No. 17 Holly Springs 27-13.
The Richmond Observer will publish a playoff preview article for next Friday’s home game against the Pride later in the week.
VIDEO INTERVIEWS — Click the links below to hear from players and coaches following Friday’s first-round playoff win.
Braxton Butler and Alex Medina
The Richmond Observer will publish a photo gallery of Friday’s playoff win over the weekend. For updates on all Richmond County sports, follow us on Twitter @ROSports_.